Whenever your child wants to do something and he or she isn’t physically or socially capable yet, you’re going to see growing pains. This is part of the reason why toddlers are known as the “terrible twos.” It’s not that they’re just being obstinate. They’re seeing so many things they want to do, and they’re not physically developed enough to do them. (That’s why it’s critical to find toys that can challenge them in ways they can grow and master, rather than toys that lead to frustration after frustration.)
When your kids have physical growth spurts, many will complain about aches and pains. Heat packs can help alleviate physical pain. If you keep track of how they’re growing, you’ll notice growth spurts of two to three inches in a matter of months.
The age of your child hints a lot at the type of growing pains they’re likely to experience. With toddlers and preschoolers, they’re developing so quickly in so many ways that they’ll have growing pains in all areas. That’s why parenting young children can feel like an intense marathon.
With elementary-aged kids, starting school creates all kinds of growing pains. My kindergarteners would come home from school exhausted. They were even more worn out when they started all-day first grade. Even though my kids had gone to preschool full time, going to grade school was a different experience for them, with different demands.
As kids enter puberty, it can seem like you’re starting all over with your kids. I remember thinking, “Don’t they remember a single thing I taught them?” After years of keeping their rooms clean, they stopped. After years of eating well, they stopped. They stopped doing homework and studying. It was like they lost their brains when the hormones kicked in.
So when your kids go through periods of growing pains, you’re going to experience growing pains as a parent. You’ll need to figure out new ways to connect with your kids and new strategies to motivate them to care for themselves, others, and their studies.
Growing pains don’t stop once puberty settles down. As my kids went through high school, each year was academically more difficult. After one month of his junior year in high school, my oldest teenager declared that he was “dropping out of school to work for Kohl’s for the rest of his life.”
This was the kid who was taking three IB courses and two AP courses.
My teenager, of course, was going through growing pains. The academic pressure was high, and all he wanted to do was to stop the pain.
Instead, we talked about how to ease the pain without dropping out of school or giving up on a challenging class. We focused on which parts of his study skills were working and which ones needed some tweaking. I also encouraged him to talk to his teachers and also his classmates. He quickly discovered he wasn’t the only one who wanted to quit. They all wanted to drop out.
So whenever you notice that your child seems overly frustrated at times, explore whether or not your child is going through some type of growing pain. Maybe your child has discovered that friendships are more complicated than she realized. Or that your child is growing so rapidly that he can’t eat enough food to quell his hunger ; ) Growing pains are a normal part of growing up, but they don’t have to be so painful. Be compassionate to what your child is going through. Be a listening ear. Help your child maneuver through the ups and downs of growing pains.
1. Ages and Stages at Parentfurther.com.
2. American Academy of Pediatrics, “Growing Pains Are Normal Most of the Time,” American Academy of Pediatrics, August 13, 2010, http://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/orthoped…