04/02/2013 05:43 pm ET Updated Jun 02, 2013

When Does Parental Lack of Information Impact Child Development?

I have always been of the opinion that all parents aim to do the very best they are able; however, when a child is begging for help by acting out, it is vital for the development of the child that parents evaluate what needs exist at different times in that child's life.

I was sitting at an adult party last week, eating a lovely buffet dinner, when I witnessed a little three-year-old boy who was sucking on a pacifier. He was in constant motion, jumping from one couch to the nearest chair to the nearest ottoman and then back again. When he began running up the stairs, his father trailed behind him, but I was curious when after a few minutes the father appeared without him. His father walked over and poured himself a glass of wine without appearing to be concerned. In a few minutes a frail looking woman entered the room asking where her son was. The father pointed to the stairs without saying a word. As the mother approached the stairs in search for the boy, she was relieved to find him coming back down. His mother tried to pick him up in her arms, but he pulled away in quest of another place to run and jump. Generally this behavior would not surprise me. It was when the mother sat down beside me and burst into tears that I knew that my instincts were correct. This family needed help.

The little boy's mother proceeded to tell me that she had asked so many people if they thought his behavior was normal, and everyone had said that he was just acting like a boy with energy. She told me that even as a little baby, there were times that she could simply not calm him down. I knew in my heart that she had been given the wrong advice. She then told me that she was a hard working woman who left her child with his daddy during the day. Their life style mandated that her husband leave his son in the morning in day care while he taught an aerobics class, and then in the afternoon he left him in another day care situation while he taught another class. Since the mother did not get home until late in the evening, her son was not being put to bed until about 11:00 p.m., although on the weekends she made sure he was on a schedule.

The biggest problem of all, she said, was that she and her husband fought all the time over how to deal with this little boy. I asked her if she had received any professional help for her family, and she went on to say that it was just too expensive. Although I called her telephone and left some referral numbers for professional people who work on a sliding scale, she has not called me back. I hope she is not feeling embarrassed, fearful or too overwhelmed to take the step.

I'm having difficulty getting this little boy out of my thoughts. He is not having his needs met. I am hoping his parents will seek the proper information to help their child. I believe that this child will be in great jeopardy if the situation is ignored. I urge you, if you are a parent who is having issues with your child, to get help as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the harder it will be. There is nothing more important than the children you bring into this world. Parenting is a wonderful but daunting task. It is an opportunity to make a difference in the world.