“Is my kid normal?” is the second most common question I am asked during a pediatric visit. (Not surprisingly, the most common question is from a fearful child asking if they need a “shot”.) By asking about normal what parents are really asking is “Should I be worried?” and “Why does my kid do THAT?”.
My answer usually starts with questions to the parent seeking details about what their child can and can’t do. But to be honest, when a father brings the child I get a little doubtful because I often get the same response. “How many words can your child use in a sentence?”. Blank look. “Can she follow two step commands?”. Blank look. Then with a look of humility the dad reaches into his pocket saying, “Here, let me call her mother and you can talk to her”.
First of all dads, I am ecstatic when you bring your kid to see me. You play a critical role in your child’s development and health. New studies confirming that fact seem to pop up all the time. These days I find more dads bringing their child for check ups because they work from home and in some cases are the primary caretaker because they are in between jobs.
And to be fair, fathers may focus on things other than how many words their child can speak. They may, however, know the exact date and time when their kid could throw a ball overhand in a generally forward direction.
But don’t despair dads, help is here. A tool available through the National Fatherhood Initiative can help. Not only can it help you get a sense for whether or not your child is “normal”, it makes you more attentive to their capabilities. Go to the tool online, add your child’s name, gender, and click on the age group. Out pops a questionnaire on child development. It is a great way to stop and evaluate how your child is developing and start thinking about how you can help. Print it out and bring it with you to your child’s next doctor’s appointment.
Now you are fully prepared for your child’s visit and can confidently answer whether or not your child is “normal”. You won’t even have to call their mother.