5 things “normal” kids do – and when to ask questions


Alright, lets face it: every parent wants to know if their kid is “normal.” From percentile of head circumference at the first pediatrician visit to the grading scale in 4th grade and through high school. “Normal” is good for parents.

I hear it a lot… 

Is that normal? 

Here is my list of 5 things “NORMAL” kids do (and when you might want to ask more questions)

1. Kids tantrum 

All kids tantrum. Maybe some are louder, some kick more, some say awful things, and are overall more intense. But, all kids tantrum.I do not have to define it here, because most of you reading this know exactly what I’m talking about. Even really nasty tantrums with really nasty things said towards you are normal.

When you should get someone else to look into it – 

There is not a number or specific behavior I can tell you that should trigger you looking into more help. I wish I could. But, if your kid’s tantrums are starting to take over the day and plans for what you would do on regular occasions, it might be something you should ask your pediatrician  (or me) about.

If you regularly and consistently exhaust yourself tip-toeing around and not doing things you would normally do to avoid situations when your kid might tantrum, you might need some advice. Basically, if it begins to affect your everyday life…ask questions of someone who can specifically talk to you about your kid.

2. Aggression happens – 

Not all kids are aggressive (hitting, kicking, biting, spitting, pushing, etc.), but it is normal. These behaviors occur for a variety of reasons and not all are “aggressive” in nature, but fulfill other more simple needs. I won’t go into all those reasons here and now, but know that this is a normal thing. Pay attention, but dont lose sleep over it.

When you should get someone else to look into it – 

My answer here is very similar to the one above. But, with aggression, you have to be aware and careful about the effect the behavior has on others. Is your kid really hurting other kids regularly and consistently? If so, you might want to sit down and come up with a plan…assess what you think is going on and address it. 

I will be honest, our oldest child had a period of time in preschool when he bit other kids in his class. After the 3rd time or so (he also bit my wife a few times), we sat down and discussed it with each other and the administrator at the school. We suggested some simple changes and it went away quickly (if not immediately).  

If it is not clear and the behavior gets more consistent and grows in intensity, you might want to ask someone about it. Again, I’m assuming a period of time across several weeks or a month, but don’t let this one get away, the effects down the road can be a bit more difficult to manage.

3. They say “NO” – 

I’m not even going to call this “oppositional,” because it is simply part of being a normal kid. “Not listening” and/or “not following directions” is as normal as it gets. Even saying, “NO” with gusto or with the added benefit of arms crossed, lips pooched out, or the ol’ foot stomp on the floor. NORMAL.

When you should get someone else to look into it –

If “no” consistently turns into tantrums and into aggression. Follow the directions above. Otherwise, follow through with some of the suggestions I have given before, sit back and know there are millions of parents in the same exact spot you are.  

4. They don’t like it when you leave – 

It is completely normal for kids to be a hint clingy when you leave them, especially if it is at a new place or with new people. Consider it normal. Even brief crying or walking to the door at school is normal. Dont worry, it is not a sign that they are being tortured by your absence…its just part of being a kid.

When you should get someone else to look into it – 

With all that said above (that it is normal), it should give you good reason and permission to let go of them and go about your day. Since it is normal, let the process take place. Say goodbye and let them be normal. This one can also get a little tricky to, so read my post on separation anxiety and do those things if you are having problems.

5. Dinner time duals –

Look, kids don’t want to eat broccoli more than you do. You think since you are an adult and all grown-up now with kids that broccoli, spinach, and carrots all of a sudden taste better? Let me take a look at your face when I take you to the new Vietnamese restaurant downtown and put something in front of you that you have never seen before (and looks like its still moving). Most kids are going to buck at the dinner table with new foods or foods that don’t taste or look like chicken nuggets. Dinner time becoming a nightmare? NORMAL.

When you should get someone else to look into it –

I have written a bunch about introducing new foods to your kids and dealing with food selectivity problems (i.e., “our little picky eater”), so check out these posts.

We also have had times at our house when we had to specifically and proactively attack food selectivity problems. It was as much of our problem as it was the kids’ since it is a lot easier to heat up a few meatballs, tear open a few strings of cheese, and open some “Dora yogurt” than it is to systematically work through carrots and rice. But, when we did, our efforts were worth it as those times have passed  (as much as it will for a 4 and 2 year old). If you believe your child’s picky eating is affecting his or her health, ask your doc.

Oh, and if you are still worried about these things…YOU are normal. Stay involved, stay informed, and stay with me here…I’ll help.


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