Celebrating Wins (Both Big and Small)

Today was a big day at our house. Noah beat his all time sitting record, and sat up so long that I lost count! It nice to see all of those sitting marathons and three times a week therapy appointments paying off! 🙂

Since Noah is our first child I honestly have no idea when a typical child is supposed to hit certain milestones. I honestly like not knowing because it allows me to just enjoy Noah for who God created Him to be. I don’t get caught up on comparing my son to other children.  Instead I find it much more productive (and fun) to spend my day celebrating Noah’s wins! As my wife likes to put it:

“We celebrate, not compare!”

I like that.

Celebrating Is Fun

boy down s down syndrome sitting up developing

Sitting up like a champ!

And today I celebrated. I celebrated all of the wins this little boy has accomplished in his short, eight month life. I celebratedall of the obstacles he has overcome. I celebrated all of his hard work.While typical children are busy taking naps, or holding their own bottle, or doing what ever it is typical kids do;  Noah has been putting in countless hours at his physical therapy sessions.  He works so hard just to “keep up” with typical kids.

My wife, Noah’s’ therapists, and I  have spent countless hours sitting him in bumbo chairs, using the z-vibe, riding rody horses, and reading developmental books. I’ve got a front row seat to his three tri-weekly  therapy appointments.  I get to see the look on his face as he strains to hold his little head up. I wipe the throw up off of him at almost every appointment because he is working so hard. I’ve watched him fall backwards, forwards, scrape his nose, and bump his head more times then I can remember as he continues to develop his fine motor skills. This little boy works hard.

I remember asking my wife just a few days before I shot this video if she noticed if Noah was had made any big gains in his development . He has been working so hard, surely he should at least be able to stay sitting up on his own by now…right?

I felt a little discouraged, but that happens to everyone sometimes.

Noah Is Winning

baby with down s syndrome down sitting up playing 3


Then on the first night of my wife’s new job at the children’s hospital, it happened.

A Win! A big, big, WIN!

doctor mom and son born with down syndrome

We love our doctor mom!

I was holding Noah in a sitting position in front of one of his favorite toys;  holding him steady so he didn’t fall backwards. And just like a father teaching his son to ride a bike I started to loosen my grip a little bit.

Then a little more…

and a little more…

and just a little bit more….

until my hands weren’t holding him up at all anymore….!

Noah was sitting all by himself…!

I couldn’t believe it.  It was awesome…!

I was so excited. I called my wife. I shot video. I texted video. I emailed video. I took pictures. I posted pictures on Facebook. Tweeted pictures out via twitter! I stopped and praised God for how He has worked in Noah’s life.

As a dad I can tell you my cheer was louder then ever; not only because I was happy my son finally did it, but because I was sincerely happy for my son.  I could feel his happiness, and I was deeply happy because I knew he was happy!  He has worked extremely hard, and had bumped his head countless times. I’m sure he wanted to give up, but he didn’t.  All of that hard work paid off.  The moment he relized I was no longer holding on to him I could see it in his little eight month old face….he knew he had just accomplished something huge.  He had just accomplished a win!  And he also knew his daddy was celebrating his win like he had just caught the game winning pass at the Superbowl!  And I was.

I was excited for my little boy, and I let him (and our neighbors) know it!

A Win Is A Win No Matter How “Small”

celebrating wins small big family

One of the greatest things about being a parent is celebrating wins with your child.  Sadly, most parents have a hard time with this.  Let me explain.

Most parents do well with celebrating “big” wins like crawling, walking, sitting up, making the football team, scoring all A’s on their report card, or beating Contra without entering in up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, a, b, a,b, select, start. (If you know what that last one is, congratulations on being a geek like me. And…if you have beat Contra without entering in that code please let me know because I’ve never heard of person who has been able to do it!)

down syndrome s baby boy sitting up development fun

"Daddy, what is Contra?"

Although many parent’s do well celebrating the big wins, they often struggle to celebrate the seemingly small wins. (They also usually fail at giving them the three most important gifts a parent could ever give their kids.) The wins that happen every day in your house. The ones that require us parents to be extra observant of our children. Maybe it’s catching your child saying “please, and thank you” to someone, seeing them hold the door open for a mother pushing a stroller into the local grocery store, or something as seemingly simple as their  baby finally getting the hang of drinking from a straw.

down s syndrome baby boy sitting up toy development

"Look daddy, no hands!"

Those are all wins. And all wins deserve to be celebrated.

How To Loose At Being A Parent

biggest looser logo parent edition

If you want to loose at being a parent (and spouse), here’s how: Always be on the look out to catch your kid doing something wrong.  Seriously.  Continually tell them what they are doing wrong, how they messed up, and how disappointed you are in them.  That will do the trick every time!

I’ve worked with teenagers for over a decade and I’ve learned that parents often have no problems finding mistakes their kids make. I’ve met a lot of parents who are quick to tell me about all of the things  “wrong” with their children. How poorly they are doing in school, or how they are grounded for “going over”234,000 text messages on last months phone bill.

Parent’s seem to have no trouble “catching” their children doing “bad.”

After listening to them tell me about all of the things wrong with their kid, I typically respond by asking them this (convicting) question:

“When’s the last time you caught your kid doing something good?”

They are taken back at first when I ask them the question; so I clarify:

“Instead of always catching your kids doing something bad, why not try real hard to catch them doing something good?”

(By the way, I also know some of their children well enough to know this isn’t easy.  Some parents have to become Dick Tracy if they want to catch their kids doing something good….but it is possible!)

In fact, the “worse” parents think their children are, the more important it is for parents to celebrate their children’s wins. My next challenge to them is to catch their child doing nine positive wins for every one “bad” thing they caught them doing.

boy with down syndrome falling down

You'll kid won't always get it right. It's ok.

It’s hard work, but it has rich dividends.

The idea of catching and celebrating wins is something I want to make a priority in our home.

When parent’s take the time to seek out and celebrate their children’s wins. Everybody’s wins. And that’s what I call Winning!

Parents, how are you doing in this area? What are some of wins you have caught your children doing, and how did you celebrate them?

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About Rick Smith

Hi, I'm Noah's Dad and I'm passionate about giving the world a window into our life as we raise our son who was born with Down syndrome. I also enjoy connecting with other families, so let's stay connected.


  1. I LOVE this post. Parents do tend to get caught up in the “big” milestones and we do compete and compare. It is horrible and yet we all do it. . . even if we do not want to and even though we know better. Every day, our children, typical and designer genes are absorbing and learning something new. It is AMAZING. We, as parents, must observe. Our children with Ds have to work so much harder at various tasks. I wish that I had my Ellie’s (and Noah’s) determination and motivation. Celebrate the little things because truly what many perceive as “little” are really BIG things with our lovies. So let’s Whoot whoot to Noah who is sitting longer like a champ.

    Last time I caught Ellie doing something good–ooh tons of times today. She didn’t throw her cup. She handed it to me. She GAVE IT TO ME because she wanted more milk. She COMMUNICATED her needs to me. Sounds simple, right? No way! This is something that we have been working on for MONTHS. She is a rockstar.

    Anyway, I love your posts. All of them even if I do not comment.

    -Anna of The Chronicles of Ellie Bellie Bear

  2. As a person who had ( still has ) behavior problems

    AMEN !!!!!!!!!!

  3. way to go Noah!!

  4. I know I’m late on this but congratulations on Noah’s sitting up. My girls didn’t hit that milestone untill well over a year. I’ve forgotten the exact time they did stuff now because they are much older now. They are 14 and even though they don’t have down syndrome they had many of the same struggles.

    The ability to celebrate little victories is the best gift my twins have given me. It has made me a better parent to my typical child, a better wife, a better friend, and I think a better Christian. They have taught me to look for things to celebrate in others, to see what people CAN do not what they can’t.

    And I share our victories, some of my friends just don’t get it, but some do, and maybe that helps them see things differently too.

    Don’t forget to keep on celebrating, it’s easy to do once the big one’s are past and you enter the world of education. Unfortunately in that world it’s all comparison to typical children, always comparing them to “the grade level standard” Rarely do I get notes home about how great the kids are doing and chances are they will never be honored for their achievements. So it’s my job to keep on letting them know that they are just the way God made them and as long as they are giving their best that’s enough for me.

  5. My husband and I have been married 9+ years, and we started our marriage by celebrating the good in each other. "Thanks for unloading the dishwasher." "Hey, I'm really glad you thought to ask that couple over for lunch." "The bathroom is clean! You're the best!" Simple stuff. Expected stuff. But we're thankful.

    We do the same with the kids. I will stop mid-conversation with someone to thank Caleb for putting his cup back in the fridge, or to cheer James on when he scoots toward a toy. That's important! Heaven knows, with a 3-yr-old in the house, they hear enough discipline and frustration from me; they need to hear the good, too. And now Caleb is a very thankful person as well, which makes me smile.

    Way to go Noah on this milestone (I know it was awhile back, but it's still cool). It gets very frustrating to see slooooow progress. I get frustrated with James's feeding. I mean, good grief, we've been working on this for almost a year now! But then our ST will say, "He just chewed 20 times on the right side! That's the best he's ever done!" So maybe the ladies at church don't understand that milestone, but I'm proud of it, anyway. 🙂 And I look forward to the day when he wows me and gets that Cheerio down all by himself.

    • That's so great to hear. I've heard it said that a child should hear 10 yes's for every 1 no. It also applies to them needing to hear 10 positive things for every one negative thing they hear. I really like that, and I want our house to be full of yes's!

      I also know what you mean about when the therapist cheers your child on. When Noah was only a few weeks old (and even now that he is 14 months old) I really enjoyed hearing his OT / PT cheer him on, or say "wow…! Look how much stronger he has gotten since last week!" Most of our fiends had no idea why we get so excited when Noah does things like roll over from front to back, or sit up for 10 seconds…since their children mastered that right when they should. We on the other hand know first hand how many trips to the OT / PT and how hard Noah worked in order to be able to do that. So it's great to have people in our life (like you guys!) you can really relate to how important these sorts of wins are! 🙂

      You guys are doing a great job! So glad we could connect. 🙂

    • Pamela Grabowski says

      As a retired Special Education Teacher, it was always extremely heartening to watch them accomplish a new building task that you have been working with them on for a thousandth time and then all of a sudden you say "by George, they got it." and you have the most awesomest WOW factor. Unfortunately, I have seen too many parents keep their SE children too spoiled with babying them and not encouraging them to grow. I applaud all parents efforts in patience with ALL their children in all their accomplishments big and small. These posts that NoahsDad.com have made me smile since I started reading them from all these marvelous parents. I feel that maybe my efforts helped this along. Thank you all.

    • Pamela Grabowski Thanks so much! We really appreciate all you do! 🙂 What age range do you teach?

  6. This is so true.. I am great at the Parenting part of my life. I am a loser as a spouse the last 1 1/2 years. I see myself doing it, and dont know how to stop.. Thank you for reminding me the importance of praising your Spouses too..

    • Thanks for being so open and honest.  Marriage is something that we all will be in the process of learning how to do well our entire life.  Your spouse is lucky to have someone who is willing to learn and grow. Great job.

      How long have you guys been married?

    • Lydia Norvell says

      Doing the right thing toward our spouses is much harder than doing the right thing toward our children. Our kids–though flawed–need us very much, and don’t hold OUR flaws against us. It Is especially hard with a child with special needs. They can absolutely consume us! One of the first things I was told after James was born is that the divorce rate is 25% higher in families with special needs. Considering that the divorce rate in the US is somewhere around 50% already, that wasn’t a comforting thought! But it prepared me to realize that I’m fighting a battle. Not only for my son, but also (and more importantly) for my marriage. Sometimes I find myself in the situation you described: seeing myself doing the wrong thing toward my spouse, but not knowing how to stop. It takes a lot of prayer, some accountability from a close friend, and open honesty with your spouse. None of that is easy, but you can do it!

  7. To some of the other parents reading this post, what are some of the ways you celebrate wins in your house?

  8. Renae Williams says

    lol!!! the booty dance is wen u stick ur rear end out an shake side to side front to back on one leg!! its really silly i got it from the dumb show called the boondocks a few years ago and it had me cracking up!!! ill have to show u a video of the girls doin it for him

  9. Pauline Holton says

    Love your blog! About your question, we would clap and make a big deal out of all Nikki's triumps! I remember being amazed, how she could do things that would take a "normal" child no time at all to do! Now Nikki is 26 and we still are amazed at what she can do, and remember ( football teams and their coaches names, and baseball players ) Now we don't clap as much we high five! <3 Nikki to pieces!

  10. Renae Williams says

    oh how I loved this post! I was smiling frm ear to ear! som people may say big deal but to us it is a big deal! & he looks so cute in his lil pj's! I am so proud of u Baby Noah! keep up the good work! <3

    • That's one of our jobs as parents…make every 'little' thing, into a big deal! Keep rocking it Renae..you're doing a great job! 🙂

    • Renae Williams says

      THANKS!! 🙂 and yes we make evry lil thing a big deal ppl dnt understand how much of a big deal little things are but u are definately helping the world to see differently!!!

  11. We are celebrating James waving bye-bye today! Lots of hugs and ksses!

  12. Becky Johnson says

    Awww! I absolutely love talking about accomplishments! Of course it is sometimes easier to find the bad habits in our kids and to point them out, but how very important it is to give the positive feedback instead. We all want and need positive feedback! I wanted to share one experience we had in our house. Our Gabby, nearly three, had been walking around furniture for months…side note, with our Kids who have DS, it is like you get to watch the developmental process in slow motion and as you said every win is a big one no matter how small! So one evening, one of those rare evenings when my husband and I had an evening out, my sister and a friend were watching our three kids. Our oldest, a son, was 8 at the time and our second daughter was 6. They were all sitting around living room visiting and my son crys out, “Look at Gabby, she’s walking!” my friend said that Keith was crying he was so excited to see Gabby take her first steps alone. They were all celebrating this huge milestone, and even the siblings as young as they were, understood the significance of it. Although I was disappointed to not have been there when she took those first steps on her own, It touched my heart to know that my other children could celebrate in such a touching manner.

  13. Noah is just a wonderful little person!!  That beautiful smile and those big blue eyes….full of wonder and mischief.  My daughter Chandler has Downs and is the youngest of 6.  She is 4 and her brothers and sisters are 32, 31, 29 and twins that are 25 years old.  She is her on little person and all her acheivements are huge ones.  They are all worth mention and praise.  The joy on her face when I say Good Job is just more than I can describe.  She is so proud and I am proud of her for any and all accomplishments.  I have never judged her by any other standard other than the one she has set and because she is who she are there is no limits!!!  You both are just wonderful for just letting little Noah, just be Noah and the love and pride you have for and in him just shines through!!!  God bless you and your wonderful little Noah!!!

  14. Libbo263 says

    I’m just gonna say thanks, Rick!!! AWESOME post! im going to try it tomorrow! xx

  15. If parents do this they have a better chance of their children being willing to help with chores & mabe even without being asked

  16. maddison says

    omg hes doing so good and again he makes me smile from ear to ear hugs noah on a job well done .

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