Ok, y’all, it’s time for a reminder. I’ll cut right to the chase here:
You, parent, DID NOT CAUSE your child’s speech and language delay.
I say these exact words at most – if not all – of my informal consultations because I can see that parents are feeling like they’ve done something wrong.
If only I had…. Then my child would be…
If only I hadn’t…. Then my child wouldn’t….
If only the world had…. Then my child would/wouldn’t….
It’s a totally normal human response to think that if something is wrong, it’s our fault. It’s how our brains try to get out of discomfort. It’s how our brains try to resolve that very unpleasant feeling: “I must have done something wrong, and if I did, then that means that I can fix it and then I won’t feel so bad.”
Here’s the thing, though: thinking that you have caused your child to be the way they are is only sending you down a Rabbit Hold of guilt, shame, dread and worry.
It doesn’t help.
It doesn’t serve you.
It doesn’t serve your child.
Feeling guilt, shame, dread and worry makes us act in ways that we don’t want to act.
We snap at our parenting partner.
We snap at our other children.
We make ourselves sad in moments of joy and delight.
We stay stuck and don’t take action on things that might actually help our kids, like seeking an evaluation or some early intervention.
Of course, the question will come up: Then why is my child this way??
And the answer is: We don’t know.
We’re all wired differently; we all learn differently; some kids talk late, some kids talk early, some kids have developmental delays and some seem to skate through.
In French we say, “C’est comme ca” (That’s how it is.)
At first glance, that might not feel satisfying. And yet, if we can accept that it is (it just is), then we can start to feel some different emotions other than dread and worry. We might choose to feel:
These feelings propel us to take action on our child’s behalf. They allow us to:
Ask questions about what my child needs
Ask people for help and advice about what to do
Schedule evaluations and/or therapy
Make changes to the environment as needed
Because, although parents who pay attention to their kids DO NOT CAUSE speech and language delays, they CAN do things that will improve their child’s skills and improve their child’s outcome.
If you’re stuck in a spiral of worry and other negative feelings because you’re thinking that your child’s delay is your fault and there must be something you can do to “fix it”, stop it.
Just stop it. It’s not helping.
Take a beat.
Take a breath.
And ask for help.
We’re right here: email@example.com.