Smiling. Rolling over. Crawling. Walking. Sleeping through the night. Talking. Toilet training. Learning to read. Preschool kids’ major milestones are well known, much discussed, and, quite rightly, well celebrated. But what about younger children’s mini achievements? Why do so few people talk about or laud them?
If you’re currently sporting a confused face, I understand why. The idea of celebrating younger children’s mini achievements is rarely aired and thus difficult to comprehend. So, what exactly am I talking about? Well, I’m talking about things like mastering long division, penning a poem, using a word with six syllables in the correct context and… …don’t panic (or call a tutor), I’m joking. I’m actually referring to stuff like hopping, catching a ball, doing a star jump, breaking an egg, using a knife and fork, successfully telling a joke, smiling for a camera without pulling a ridiculous face, and doing up the zip of a jacket.
Why younger children’s mini achievements matter
The list of a younger child’s mini achievements is long and the skills are varied, but they all tend to have two things in common. First, when the learning process begins these mini achievements are all so alien to your child that they may as well be from another dimension. Second, the speed at which your kid goes from zero to hero is astonishing.
A good example from my son’s recent past is throwing a tennis ball up in the air with one hand and catching it with the other hand. Adults and older children can do this without thinking about it, but when you first show a young child this is possible their mind is blown and their hands don’t know what to do. Towards the ground, into his face, hammering off the walls and ceiling, at first my son threw the ball everywhere – and it went there way faster than it needed to. He had no control, but he kept trying, I kept encouraging him, and pretty soon the ball was slowing down and his aim was improving.
Then, a few weeks later, it happened. The tennis ball went up slowly, arced gloriously, descended towards the floor and stuck in his other hand. His face. My face. The joy, the delight, the pride. This mini achievement might not mean anything to anyone else or change his life, but it was all us. Together, we had done it and, together, we would celebrate it. I’m not sure I’ve ever felt closer to him, or found anything that showcases the joy of parenting more. Blimey, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, isn’t it? I don’t think so and here’s why.
The joy of teaching your kid something no-one else finds important
When it comes to parenting, there are a lot of resources to help you with the major milestones (including, hint hint, this website – for example, check out my advice around whether you kid is ready to start walking, or toilet training).
Mini achievements are different. Nursery teachers, parenting books, and advice websites tend not to sweat the small stuff, which means ticking off these lesser landmarks is solely down to we mums and dads. We inspire our child. We persevere with our child. And, ultimately, we get the rush of succeeding with our child. If you’ve experienced this intoxicating Valhalla you’ll know why I can’t get enough and would recommend it to anyone. If you haven’t, you really should. Thus, I suggest you log off the internet, find your child, choose a mini achievement to work on and begin the adventure.
Until next time…