Oh Boy

As a mother to a little boy, I have some concerns.  Mainly, I want to try and balance his physicality with a bit of mental exercise.  He is a flat-out physical being, and we pretty much need to run him, as you would a dog, to get him tired enough to sleep.  This includes biking, swimming, multiple playground visits a day and climbing steps (we have scoped out all of the best steps around Providence- who knew there were so many!).  I know it sounds odd, but I am sure that any of you who have busy little boys are nodding in agreement. 

The thing is, he is physically advanced for his age…at 10 months, he is just about walking, but more than that, it is his coordination and speed.  But he has absolutely no interest in reading, or learning in any form.  I try to teach him words, and letters through songs, through playing with alphabet blocks, and various other toys.  But he simply has no use for any of it.  Forget trying to read a book to him, he lunges for the book, grabs it out of my hands and bites through the pages.  I have other friends with baby girls, and they sit together, for hours at a time, and actually read books.  Are you kidding me?

One of my friends has a similarly active little boy, and someone said to her that because he is advanced physically, he will have a harder time with the mental stuff.  I panicked…this is exactly my fear for little Vijay.

So moms… do you have any advice, stories to share, words of wisdom?  I feel like a lunatic bringing this up to my pediatrician, so I will turn here instead.  God forbid I Google this problem, it always seems to point me to some panic-inducing answer!

23 thoughts on “Oh Boy

  1. Caitlin

    I'm not a mom yet, but I worked as a nanny for a while with a baby through this age. She was a girl, and pretty interested in books and stuff, so I know what you mean about the differences between them. But what I did observe (and read about) was that she would develop big skills in chunks. Her 9-12 month period was very mental and verbal. She was learning signs, identifying words and pictures. Then from about 12-14 months she had a very physical period. She mastered walking and all that came with that. During that period, her vocabulary stalled. But once she mastered her gross motor skills, she had a speaking explosion from 14-17 mos or so. So maybe your baby is just kind of flipping those periods. Once he masters walking, he may have a more verbal developmental period. It seemed to me like she could only focus on one major skill set at a time (and I read about this fact as well). In the meantime, one of her little friends (a boy), wouldn't sit still for books or reading, so his mom would just read aloud while he went about his busy business. He was still hearing the words she read and developing some verbal skills. I hope that helps! Your son is precious!

  2. Megan

    Christine, your feelings are totally normal. Your little one is also likely totally normal. He is focused and interested in gross motor/fine motor tasks right now and that is totally fine. I would take what he is focused and interested in and expand it and work within it for now. Play should be fun and exciting for kids to learn from; so I wouldn't force things on him that don't engage him (at this point). My daughter is in intensive early intervention and is on the autism spectrum so I've learned quite a bit of stuff about this over the past several months. If you are concerned with wanting him exposed to language; you can always read him a fun book while he is in his high chair eating meals and snacks. It gives them some entertainment, and you are able to “sneak” in the exposure to language, etc. As for letters and words; that will come with time naturally for typical kids. You can work in songs and singing games into activities…like if he's in the swing, you can sing songs with hand motions and he will watch you and learn over time as he sits in the swing at the park. (as an example). Or, you can count stairs as he climbs them. He can learn about taking turns by rolling a ball back and forth with you. He's at an age where learning to mimic is important, so you can sit in front of a mirror with him and make faces together and have him try to imitate your actions or sounds. He simply may be too young to be interested in traditional “toys” when he wants to be on the move and exploring things. So I would see what you can come up with in terms of creatively sneaking in learning activities during his gross motor play (or play that captivates him.) Music while blowing bubbles can work, or just giving him random objects to feel and explore (but put them all over the room for him to find on his own to appeal to his wanting to move). Anyway, these are just thoughts. My little one (when she was that age) always had success with focusing on puzzles and fine motor tasks and block play when she was in her high chair. She felt safe there in the enclosed spot and she was able to focus more easily. Books were a success during meals and now she will sit through long storybooks with interest. You have to build up to it though. Just know that your feelings are normal and kids seem to always fall on one side or the other. But it doesn't mean he won't be good at those things. It just means he'll get more into them later on and will likely excel at it too. (Paige focused on her gross motor stuff first and now she's REALLY into language and cognitive tasks and is flourishing VERY quickly). Some kids do it the other way around, but what matters is that they do it eventually.
    If you are ever concerned about your child's development, you can contact your state's early intervention program and get a free evaluation where a team of people would come play and check out all his skills and see if there's areas of risk for him. The government provides this service by law, so don't be afraid to take advantage if you feel worried he may be behind in something or is exhibiting behavior that worries you. Early intervention folks are so great, and it can make you feel so much better when you have the answers you are looking for. (ps, her pediatrician missed many “signs” so I recommend getting an evaluation even if the pediatrician says “hey! everything is fine!”. Hugs to you!!! Your little boy is so precious!!!!

  3. Vixanne

    Wow, Megan and Caitlin have some great advice. I can sympathise completely; my son is 10 months old and would rather be off running an assault course than sitting still for stories. My daughter was exactly the same at this age, and it continued that way until she was about 2. She has just finished her first year of school now (she's 5, almost 6), and is ahead of most of her class with reading, writing and creative skills. She absolutely loves reading, I often find her reading on her bed with no prompting from any of us grown ups! So my point is, not to worry, I'm sure Vijay will be fine. Just go with the flow, everything that they do at this age is teaching them something – it might not be obvious to us, but he's learning and perfecting all sorts of important skills with everything he does. The idea of reading a story aloud while he goes about his business is a great idea. I spend a great deal of time talking to my two, just about anything: what I'm doing, what someone has said to me on the phone/in an email, where we're going, what we might do later, making up stories. There's rarely any silence in our house even when it's just me and my son! Hope this helps you lay your worries aside. Enjoy your sweet little family 🙂

  4. GB


    I think this may be my first comment here, but I've been following your blog for a few months now (I love it!). My little guy was always on the go as well (He's 7 now!) but while he was a baby and a busy toddler, I think I had the same concerns…

    My advice to you is to just keep on doing what you're doing–(our pediatrician told me that their brains are like little sponges at this stage)kids have an enormous capacity to absorb information and even if they don't really communicate with you, they're internalizing more than you can imagine! Seriously, my son would never sit still during story hours at the library (he learned to crawl at 4 mos!)and I used to envy moms with kids who would sit and participate, but you know what? he would be singing those little songs to himself later while digging in the dirt, he knew his abcs by the time he was two and is at least two grade levels ahead in his reading skills right now. So don't worry, just let him be, keep reading to him (we have some chomped on books too!)

    Your little boy reminds me a lot of mine at that age! 🙂

    Hope this helps,


  5. Nina

    It is my understanding that children tend to be faster in one area and slower in the other (verbal versus motor skills). So, if a child is fast with the motor skills he/she will be slower with the verbal and vice versa. With my siblings and myself, we were all faster with the verbal and slower with the motor – including my brother. We all walked for the first time very first to our first birthdays. We are all fine with motor and verbal skills now, so no worries.

  6. Bella

    Oh my gosh.. he is so cute! You know, my daughter was similar to V at that age. She didn't really start to sit for reading time until she was closer to two years old.
    But … trust that what you are reading & repeating while he's munching on the book cover – he's taking it all in! I love active little babies! They keep you on your toes.
    Much love to you.

  7. Holly

    I remember being worried that my son wasn't crawling at 10 months. I think that all parents want to be sure that their little ones develop to their full potential and worry about what they can do to make that happen. My son is almost 5 years old now…More recently I was very worried that he wouldn't sit and draw or write his name (or cut, or glue, or craft it up AT ALL, which nearly KILLED me because I really would love to do these things with him – they are an important part of my life). All of a sudden he is interested in writing and is drawing dozens of pictures everyday. Kids are funny like that. You think that things are not moving forward developmentally and then BAM off they go. I think that the trick is to keep offering them the opportunity to master a new skill without putting too much pressure on them. PS – as for the crawling worries…just to mess with me 😉 my son never actually crawled. He just started walking around 13 months. They are constant surprises!

  8. nursenikkiknits

    I have one of each. A 3 year old boy who has am amazing ability to focus and has loved to look at books from a couple months old and a 1 year old daughter who thinks that books are great for throwing. I worried that my 1st one wasn't physical enough!
    My feeling is that babies all have different timing for things. Once they get interested in something (be it walking, talking, using a spoon etc). everything else takes a backseat until they master their new skill, get bored, and move on.
    As a pediatric nurse, I have often seen young toddlers who are talking but not walking and those that are walking but not talking. The nurse in me have to keep reminding the mum in me that my kids are normal and just to keep exposing them to lots of things and they will get to each of them… eventually… on their own terms. (It really is so annoying I can't force them to progress on a timeline that suits me ; )

  9. A New England Life

    Hi Christine,

    It's amazing how concerned we are with where our children are developmentally at that tender age. All I know is that when my girls were babies they were quite different from other babies I knew. My friends daughter walked at 10 months while mine didn't walk until she was 13 1/2 months! My daughter was speaking complicated words like 'piccalilli' while others could barely say anything.

    Overall, it sounds like Vijay is developing wonderfully. You and your husband are both quite intelligent so I'm sure Vijay will be too. He's certainly got it going on in the adorable department and it's obvious he loves being a baby : )

  10. carmen

    he's developing normally. All children, boys and girls, are quite physical at that age, and learn best thru movement. All the other stuff will come lately, some children are not ready until they are 5 or 6. When my girl was that age, all she did was rock and later walk, and then run. She didn't sit still until she was 4. All children develop differently, and they all end up in the same place in the end. If he is alert and interacts, he is doing very well

  11. Annie P.

    Your concerns are totally spot-on as a mom. Developmentally, though, I'd be more concerned if he wasn't MOVING around. Many kids (and adults!) learn through movement and developmental issues are more likely to be apparent by lack of coordination. Sounds like Vijay is doing exactly the right thing for him. Language, and books, may be a way off yet — doesn't mean they won't come (and when they do, you'll wonder how to get him to stop talking!)

  12. baglady

    I am an occupational therapist who has worked with children for 25 years. I have seen thousands of kids at all different ages and stages. Kids develop at different rates and different areas and there is a wide range of normal development. Children who are active and curious about their environment tend to be quite bright and that appears to describe Vijay. There is lots of research that supports reading to children as early as infancy but when Vijay is this young and not interested, reading while he is busy is good and talking to him about everything is great. I don't think you have anything to worry about with his development- you are a great mom, providing him with lots of experiences. Cut yourself some slack- you are doing a great job!

  13. Dara

    That's bologne, there's no evidence to prove that people who are advanced physically are behind mentally – to suggest this is pure hogwash! I'm sure he's extremely intelligent and will have no trouble learning how to read or taking on any other “intellectual” challenge. However, he will probably be a kinesthetic learner. Do some reading about this learning style and you'll find that it is often the case that highly physical children that learn best through movement. I've been a secondary mathematics teacher for 9 years and have taught many students who are kinesthetic learners. A good teacher can differentiate for students with all learning styles – including the “wiggly ones”. Can I also suggest that you read the book “Mindset” by Carol Dewek…I wish that every parent would. She has done years of research about how intelligence is viewed/developed (either fixed or growth mindset). At least start by reading this article about her research:

  14. Anonymous

    Oh Christine, I wish we were friends- I would put my arm around you and say, ” I never knew either, until I had a boy of my own.” Let me tell you, it is wonderful, but you will never believe the energy until you experience it yourself. I have 2 boys now and they are both different but are very physical nonetheless. I came from a family of all girls and I had no idea. I know that everyone is different but there are some stereotypes.
    I will just warn you now about the 4-6 pm “dinner hour running” where my son just runs around the living room in circles. I have spoken to many of my friends with boys around the same age, and they are all doing the same thing around the same time.
    I agree with a lot of the comments and making words, songs, stories while being active. He is in an exploring stage and likes the tactile world. Just using single words and describing what is around you and him is wonderful for learning words, sentences etc.
    He will sit down and learn things but in his own time. THere are a lot of great articles published in the Globe and Mail, Canada, where they did a series on boys and learning at school. It was last year but I am sure you can find it. I will look and see if I can find the link. It was very helpful to gain insight on how to set up a boy's learning successfully and how today's classrooms are letting boys down.
    Keep up the great work. You have great intuition of what he needs and maybe hang out with a few more boys at the playground 🙂
    Libby from Canada

  15. Anonymous

    You might have been describing my son. He walked at 9 mos. The first day of kindergarten he introduced himself to his teacher by announcing, “I do not know my letters.” We had bribed him all summer. He loved to be read to but saw no point in learning how at that time. He loved doing anything kinetic. He loved to run and pretend to be Luke Skywalker. First grade he thought the books were boring (The ball is blue) and had no time for them. So much worry. Were we doing everything we could? But he progressed and learned when he was ready. Now he is a sophomore in high school. Honors math, honors english. He is doing great. All the worry was so unnecessary. Kids have a way of turning out to be just who they should be.

  16. kim

    I wouldn't worry about him appearing to have no interest in learning words or letters. Or that just because he's advanced with motor skills he'll be delayed with verbal ones (no scientific evidence for that theory). He's only 10 months! He'll be picking up on words, colors, numbers, etc just by hanging out with you & listening to you talk to him about the things you do & the world around you.
    My 13-month-old does have a few delays after a couple heart surgeries early on and while in my head I know that this is totally the norm & she'll likely catch up by the time she's 2, I worry, worry about it. But we mamas tend to worry so about things, when but a lot of the time what's needed is to just let go a bit & give our kids the space to develop as they will.

  17. Meg McG

    It's hard to accept that our children aren't going to be spectacular at everything all the time. The spurts everyone talks about true, so are the worries. I quickly learned that my boys are people and as such may not actually be perfect (which is ridiculous, my boys are THE BEST KIDS EVER!!!! lol)
    But because you are the kind of mom who cares and pays attention to your kid you are doing him more than good than all the books, museums and culture immersion of ten parents combined. It's the loving acceptance of a parent that makes a child secure and happy, not reading or motor skills. You're doing great and your boy will one day say the same to you.

  18. Kristianna

    Comparing kids is unfair to everyone — you as a mom, included. He is who he is, just as you are you. He may or may not ever really like books. And that's OKAY.

    My middle child who is also my eldest son barely spoke until he was 2. He clearly understood us all, but he didn't say much. Then, one day he just started and he's a JABBERMOUTH with an excellent vocabulary for a Kindergartener. Similarly, he had NEVER put pen etc to paper and drawn an actual 'thing' until he was 5. I was truly worried he'd be marked up as somehow mentally deficient because he would not draw a damn thing (his older sister can draw for hours and is pretty darn good for a 9 yr old). Then, he began to draw — when he was good and ready. His self portrait at school made me almost fall over laughing it was so funny looking, but he'd giving it a go and pushing his boundaries.

    This same child was doing math at 3. The heart wants what the heart wants, I suppose. 🙂

  19. Ivy

    I enjoyed reading your comment feed! I have 4 children, a girl and three boys. ALL of them different and yet the same in a way. It is perfectly normal for you to wonder, we all do. The advice from this one post is reassuring but more importantly, you care enough to ask! Don't be afraid to talk with your pediatrician when you have these concerns, they've seen and heard it all and want you to be in the know 🙂
    Cheers to you!

  20. Wendy

    hello, hello:

    i too have a boy and he just turned 9. NINE! how time flies. my SIL has 3 boys and just had the 1st girl amongst all the grandkids. what a difference. boys are definitely different beings and movement is how they learn, playing is how they learn.

    since you're asking, i'll give you what i think would have helped me when i was in your shoes, wondering if things were normal or what might become of my lad. i still wonder btw – always worried that i'm going to screw something up somehow – and always struggling to free myself from what is currently considered “standards” by society today and find what is and not necessarily what someone thinks should be. it's probably a healthy paranoia to have. but i'm rambling.

    in a nutshell, i highly recommend reading some of john holt's books (how children fail, how children learn, etc). these are the first books i encountered that helped me see that children are all “smart”, are all learners until the joy gets sucked out of it. it also made me take a step back and question myself – why did i think my wee lad needed to read early, needed to understand math concepts, needed to do anything other than what he was doing? i found that it was solely because of peer pressure that i wanted these things. my husband wanted them so that he could show off his son. these are things that we need to drop. i mean…really?…can we really tell the difference between a child that learned to read at 3 vs a child that learned at 11? no…other than society has probably labeled the child that learned at 11 as disabled or “challenged” in some way.

    in a nutshell, holt's philosophy is “… the human animal is a learning animal; we like to learn; we are good at it; we don't need to be shown how or made to do it. What kills the processes are the people interfering with it or trying to regulate it or control it.”

    seriously, your wee lad is perfect, you are perfect, he is doing what he needs to do to learn about the world around him and how he is to be within it. the mental stuff will come naturally especially with supportive parents that answer the 50 million questions he will no doubt have.

    and, fyi, schooling used to start at 8 when most children naturally are developmentally ready to learn to read and write. most children will naturally gravitate to reading, unprompted, around age 8. before then, it can be a challenge, esp since they are still primarily learning through play, through social interaction.

    there. all kinds of rambling thoughts and hopefully helpful.

    and i adore your blog and the absolute bravery it takes to ask strangers to give advice…or even to expose your parenting to others.

    merry, merry.

  21. Anonymous

    I didn't read the other comments so forgive me if I repeat anything. First off, let him play. I repeat, let him play. Children learn through play. Forget letters and all the other things you think he needs to know right now. Screw Baby Einstein and all that crap. Seriously. There is a time for that, but it will come when needed if you nurture his needs. My first child is a girl. She has let me read to her since she was 4 months old. She had quite the attention span and started reading quite early. I let her play! I didn't do anything but read to her and play with her. No TV, iPad (not around yet, but wouldn't have done it), nothing but simple toys and love and good nutrition with sleep. I've done the same with my second child, a boy. You know what? He had a much shorter attention span and didn't really want to sit through longer books until age 3. He is still so active and all over the place. Definitely advanced for his age. He's also starting to read at 4. But you know what? None of that came from pushing and prodding. None of it came from formal teaching. When children are ready, you'll know. Your little one is so young! Nurture the world of play. Let him explore things that involve his entire physical self. As children paint and play in mud, their minds are busy making connections. It is not without learning. If you must read about theory, try Piaget, Gardner, Holt. A whole world is out there for your little one. Let him pop bubbles that you blow for him. Let him run barefoot. Let him make mudpies and build with blocks. Both of my children are in school this year and I miss the age your son is. There is so much more freedom. Let him be free, and at the same time, free yourself of expectations of yourself to formally teach your child at this age. He will teach you. Blessings. Love your beautiful blog.

  22. Pingback: Fall Reading List | Christine Chitnis

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