Being a parent can make you rather obsessive about comparing the developmental milestones of your child with others around them. As the dad of a child who is behind most of her age group when it comes to walking, it’s been a challenge not to push her too much and let her get there in her own time.
Our 20-month old Tilly is a bottom-shuffler, which means she uses her legs and a hand to scoot herself across the floor, while being able to see where she’s going. It’s a relatively speedy method of travel (lightning fast on shiny floors, less so on rougher surfaces) and unlike crawling doesn’t require the child to keep checking where they are. Consequently bottom-shufflers tend to be later walkers as they just don’t have the same impetus to make the effort to stand.
It’s fair to say that Tilly has never rushed her movement. She was hardly moving at all until around a year, aside from a bit if rolling and only started bottom shuffling after her first birthday. She’s always been extremely keen to take in what’s going on around her and to communicate, which has led to her communication skills to be significantly ahead for her age while her movement has been lagging behind.
This delay in walking has been a cause of frustration as her peers and increasingly younger children overtake her. They take to the feet, while she remains firmly on her bottom. At nursery her friends were moved up to the next class as they were walking, while at the playground her choice of activities is limited, while others run around. Now as a stay-at-home dad, trips to toddler groups and music sessions have only compounded the frustration and the desire for Tilly to get walking.
There’s a risk to pushing toddlers, though. I’ve found that Tilly can herself be frustrated by the limits of her abilities as an infant and is prone to losing confidence if pushed too much. There’s a trick to providing gentle encouragement they will encourage the development of skills but in a context where the child feels comfortable and in control.
In the meantime there’s a lot of literal handholding going on until Tilly gets confident to go it alone. It’s pretty backbreaking work but if she finds walking and running while being supported good fun it can surely only help to sell the benefits of this walking malarkey.
In the meantime, it has mean a number of weeks of hand-holding and support to get Tilly on her feet and building confidence. It can be backbreaking but