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The New Parenting Trend is “Inchstones”

a close up look at a variety of small, colorful stones by Scott web on Unsplash
colorful stones by Scott Web on Unsplash

Tracking and celebrating milestones are a big part of the parenting experience. From the first birthday to the first word to the first day of school, there are many opportunities for excitement, HuffPost reported.

Recently, parents have been injecting fanfare into the smaller moments as well. Indeed, Pinterest’s latest trend predictions going into 2024 suggest that more caregivers are embracing “inchstones.”

What exactly are inchstones?

As the name suggests, “inchstones” stand in contrast to milestones. An inchstone could be half a birthday, a lost tooth, or the first time a kid puts on their shoes without help. It’s about the small steps in development, rather than the big leaps.

“Originally, I believe the term was used more by parents of kids with special needs,” said parent educator Kristene Geering. “Because typical milestones can take much longer to achieve, and because so much effort goes into those milestones, celebrating the steps along the way is a way to talk about how much joy parents felt with they saw those little accomplishments.”

Rather than concentrating on milestones like walking, talking, writing, or riding a bike, Geering touted the value of paying attention to the development of smaller skills – like commando crawling, for example – that can eventually lead to those bigger moments.

Celebrating inchstones has pros and cons.

For parents of kids with special needs, there are clear benefits to acknowledging inchstones, as they carry more meaning and inspiration amid challenging times. But there are also upsides for parents of typically developing kids. 

Geering cited an old adage: “The days are long, but the years are short.” She emphasized the importance of finding joy in those long days by appreciating the tiny moments.

There can be downsides to celebrating inchstones, however.

“I think it has to do with how you define ‘celebrate,’” Geering said. “If you have cake and ice cream every time your child makes any sort of progress, it’s quickly going to lose all meaning, like Christmas that never ends. There’s a reason celebrations feel special — it’s because they don’t happen every day.”

She noted that this practice might also end up demovating a child. Much research has shown that praise focused on effort is more effective, and encourages children to learn from failure and mistakes. Meanwhile, fanfare and praise around something the child has less control over, like inherent talent or an inevitable occurrence, gives kids less motivation to keep trying harder tasks that can improve their skills.

It also should be noted that inchstones do not require a parent to give their child a small stone whenever they learn a new task. Instead, the point is to make an emotional connection and to acknowledge small, but important, steps.

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