Becoming a parent involves a lot of trial and error. There are certain milestones that correspond with specific ages (eating solids at 6 months, drinking cow's milk at 1 year, when to start Kindergarten, among other things). But there are some milestones that do not come with a specific age, in fact, the lines are quite blurred. There is no personalized manual for your individual child, so how do you know when is the right time to potty train, transition to a big-kid bed or even start them in organized sports? Here are some dos and don'ts when it comes to making transitions with your kids.
1. Do your research
It never hurts to research what it is you are trying to do. Use the resources around you (books, magazines, your mom and the Internet) to gain knowledge about this new step. Learning about other's experiences; what worked, what didn't, learning techniques to try with your own kids, and what signs to look for to know if your child is ready or not. Remember some information can be really helpful, while others you should take with a grain of salt.
2. Don't compare your kids
I have tried very hard not to compare myself with others, but unfortunately I fail when it comes to not comparing my kids with anyone else's. It is hard not to fear my kids are behind when my friend's 3-year-olds are reading, dividing fractions and making dinner. But, I know that all kids progress at their own rate, and as long as they are healthy, happy and progressing, they are just fine. Keep that in mind when you are reading Facebook updates about so-and-so's little one finally sleeping in a big-kid bed, or what's-her-name's kid landing the lead in Annie. Love your child for who they are, and remember, everyone is unique.
3. Ask your friends
If you have friends with older kids, most likely they've already been through what you're attempting. Ask them how they knew their kids were ready. Ask what worked for them. They will give you real-life experiences, something a book doesn't always provide, and a more modern approach, something your mom may be lacking. Sorry, Mom. You do not have to do exactly what they did, but if they know you are starting on a new journey, they can encourage you and provide you with support and advice throughout the process.
4. Know your child
This is the most helpful thing you can do when deciding to transition from one phase to another. No book, website, or friend knows your child better than you. Keep an eye out for certain signs that tell you if your child is ready or not for something. If your child is terrified of the potty, then it may not be the best time to start potty training. However if they are telling you when they are going to the bathroom and want their diaper changed right away, then those may be signs they are ready. Trust yourself and trust your child, the time will come.
5. Have patience
Even if you are ready to attend your kid's soccer games, if they aren't, then the time may not be right. Parents are no strangers to patience, and waiting for those milestones are no exceptions. Rarely will your child do something on your time table, so sit back and get ready for them to let you know when they are ready.
6. Try it out
When all else fails, just try. You can always take a break or pull them out of dance class for a while so they can mature a bit more before they try again. Letting your child try something new helps them grow. The worse that can happen is you spend a few more months in diapers than originally planned.
I hope these tips can help you with knowing if the time is right for you to try something new with your child. The important thing to remember is every child is different, and eventually they will make the transition. It may be sooner than you expected, or it may feel like the moment will never come, but it will. Don't lose hope.