Is my nephew normal?

When I babysit my three-year-old nephew, he seems a bit slow. Should I tell his mother?

Sit tight, says our elder.

Dear EWC

I’ve been watching my nephew and little cousin for a while now and I’ve noticed a concerning amount of differences. My little cousin is two but can talk, dance, and communicate very well. He can understand facial expressions and make his own. He understands what you say to him. My nephew on the other hand seems to be a bit ‘slow’. He is three years old, but doesn’t communicate well, doesn’t know how to express his emotions, and I’ve seen him multiple times get angry and than hit his head on the nearest object… from a wall to stairs to the floor. My nephew doesn’t seem to understand what you’re saying most of the time; he even has trouble playing with other kids. He’ll shy away, or be selfish or want to hit the kids. I am very concerned that my nephew has some type of delay, whether it’s a communication delay or a mental delay…. Is this something that I’m watching too closely? Or should I bring it up to his mother? I don’t want to insult her, by saying I think something is wrong with her son, but I am concerned. Please help me!

Hedwig replies

Children grow at very different rates—and often, slower ones catch up later when their physical bodies become ready. However, if you are concerned, you might mention it without comparing the two children.  You might also read some literature on learning milestones and age or speak with a child psychologist. Ages two and three are very young to draw permanent conclusions about children’s abilities.

If the child has regular medical check-ups, his doctor will be aware if something is out of line. Evaluations will also increase as he goes into day care or school situations. In any case, while it is wonderful that you are so caring, this may be beyond your control. Some children excel; others do not. Some are verbal; others are physical. No two are alike and may have quite different abilities.

I would say be watchful, but sit tight.

Letter #: 400306

Category: Children

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