Monitoring your child with a checklist can an extent.

Pros and Cons of Child Behavior Checklists

by Damon Verial

Checklists are fun, orderly, and down-right useful…right? Well, when it comes to monitoring your child, the advantages and the disadvantage of using a checklist almost balance each other out. A checklist certainly can help you know your child’s progress, but at the same time, as a mom, you should know when to forego the standards in favor of your own intuition.

Pro: Keeping up with the Joneses

Developmental psychology has shown that a child’s development follows a general path. By using a checklist, you can make sure that your child is meeting her “quota” of advances in becoming a mature kid. When you find your child lacking or held back in one area on your preferred checklist, you can directly deal with this problem by engaging your child in more activities that help the child grow in that area. For example, if your child hasn’t learned at least 50 words by around 20 months, she may be a slow learner of languages. Knowing these facts through a checklist can help you push your child to greatness.

Pro: Discovering Invisible Problems

As sad as it sounds, learning difficulties at early ages tend to avoid detection. By using a checklist containing the standards for child development, you can assure your child is developing without significant problems. Deafness, for example, avoids detection at young ages. But a checklist of the signs of hearing normality can help a parent verify their child has normal hearing abilities. Such a checklist can save you worries and expensive doctors’ fees for check-ups.

Con: Every Child Is Unique

Checklists are generalized, as they are meant to appeal to the general population. But just like their moms, every child is unique. Some learn more quickly; some develop certain abilities more slowly; others act “strangely” but may in fact be the next Steve Jobs. Using a checklist to judge your child can cause needless worry; so if you choose to use a checklist to monitor your child’s behavior, at least take it with a grain of salt.

Con: You Are Not a Robot

Moms don’t have kids to propagate the earth. In fact, the reason for childbirth varies for each mother. The emotions you feel for your child cannot be expressed with mathematics, statistics, or any other objective measures. And this set of objective measures includes checklists. Look, raising a child can be both wonderful and stressful, but comparing your child to a set of words on a list is just asking for more stress and less wonder. When used wisely, checklists can be helpful; when used robotically, they can make you more frustrated than a cheering soccer mom with a hoarse throat.


  • Monographs for the Society for Research in Child Development; Structure and Strategy in Learning to Talk; K. Nelson
  • Audiometry in Infancy; S. E. Gerber

About the Author

Having obtained a Master of Science in psychology in East Asia, Damon Verial has been applying his knowledge to related topics since 2010. Having written professionally since 2001, he has been featured in financial publications such as SafeHaven and the McMillian Portfolio. He also runs a financial newsletter at Stock Barometer.

Photo Credits

  • Jack Hollingsworth/Photodisc/Getty Images