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children looking much older than they are. How do you help them with the unfairness of it all?

(10 Posts)
LeMousquetaireAnonyme Wed 25-May-11 18:45:08

My children looks older than they are by a few years and they are expected to behave accordingly. Which is ridiculous for DD2 at 16 months as she is expected to talk and be more coordinated (like a 2.5 yo).
I am not sure what I am asking really, but this week end something made me tick as DD1 did a passport game.
She got told off for not knowing that New Delhi was the capital of India. She is 6 and thought that knowing where to place pakistan and sweden and recognised the bulgarian, canadian, german, french, romanian, italian and US flags was really good. She is the size of a 8/9 yo but as not started formal schooling yet (not in the UK).
When she was a toddler she wasn't "allowed" to have tantrums or be in the pushchair because she was so big. I have constant demand that I do not carry DD2 (16 months) in the carrier because she is lazy hmm. Or what is wrong with her she doesn't speak... hmm

I am afraid that when they do something good it is not recognised because most children their sizes do it already. It is often dismissed by mother of the same age children "yes, she can do that but she is much older than you".

Then I am also worried of a lot of inappropriate comments will come later on. (I was called slut and asked to do sexual things in the street when I was 12 and didn't really understand what was going on, looked 17, dressed like a 12 but you can't hide your body or your size)

How do I prepare them for it all? How do I make them feel special when they do something good? How do I explain that it is unfair but I can't put on a sticker with their age on their forehead?

It is not that bad, I know, I got out of there, but they could be more prepared than I was, and recognised a bit more so they don't lack confidence (as I did).

Any advices?

Galena Wed 25-May-11 19:58:02

I'm afraid I can't really help, but I have the opposite problem. DD is 2.1 and is tiny - she's still in 9-12 month clothes and doesn't walk due to physical problems. If we go to soft play, toddling 12-18 month old children are often pulled back by their mums with 'Be careful of the baby.' To be honest, if I were worried about her being trampled on, I wouldn't take her to soft play! Again, I can't put a sticker on her head with her age.

I guess that as you've been through it already, at least you know what the likely issues are, so you can reinforce how well they've done and so on at home. Once they are at school it may help because they will be in with their peers so can compare themselves to the others in terms of attainment.

We all have to grow a thick skin I think and know that we're doing the best we can for our children!

smashingtime Wed 25-May-11 20:16:52

Is hard on them - I agree. DD is tall for her age - she's 3 but more like a 4/5 yr old height wise. Doesn't help her much as like Galena's DD she has physical probs and it makes her look all the more uncoordinated due to her height! She was in her pushchair for longer than most kids too and I got some shocking looks from other Mums and older women...

Agree it helps to grow a thick skin eventually and hopefully if they feel confident enough inside it won't worry them.

exexpat Wed 25-May-11 20:30:37

My two DCs are the same and always have been - DS is now 12 and looks more like 15 or 16, DD is 8 and looks more like 11. I had the funny looks and comments when they were 'still' in the pushchair or wearing nappies when aged 2 but looking more like 4 or 5 (it didn't help that we were in Japan where the average child was smaller anyway). Luckily they are both bright and quite mature for their ages, so most of the time behave closer to their height than their age, but underneath they are still only 12 and 8.

I don't think there is anything you can actually do to help them with any issues that arise, except try to make them confident enough to be able to point out 'I'm only 6/8/10/12, you know' if anyone says anything to them.

Harassment of older-looking girls could be more of a problem later on, but I have to admit that I quite liked looking older than my age when I was 15 or so - being served in pubs and so on....

Tgger Thu 26-May-11 00:26:22

I think inner confidence and a temperament that can ignore other people's inappropriate responses is useful smile.

I have a big and a little- a son who is 4.5 but looks 6 and a daughter who is 2.5 but looks 1.5.

I did tend to say "he's only 2/3" at the first opportunity if there were any "situations". I tend not to bother these days and then watch their faces later in the situation when I say "he's only 4.5" (not 6...!). Same with DD she is called "the baby" by children a year younger than her and she hates it. Luckily she can speak really well now and it's hilarious watching people's faces when she comes out with a really long sentence.

School is great. DS is the tallest in his class (uk nursery, 3 and 4 year olds) and taller than most of the next class too, but treated as an equal by teachers and kids and he doesn't seem self-conscious about being bigger- that comes from us not them smile.

IloveJudgeJudy Thu 26-May-11 09:55:47

I had this with DS1 who looked a couple of years older until he was about 6. I then used to intervene and say "he's only....". It is a problem as people are so judgy about everything. I would be consistent, though, and intervene all the time. You can't let your DC's confidence be undermined by others.

I also think you'll just have to grow a thicker skin and ignore any glances about carrying your baby. It's hard, I know, but this won't last forever.

LeMousquetaireAnonyme Thu 26-May-11 10:36:11

Thanks all for your input.

I have super thick skin, and ignore the glances but here (not the UK) people actually come and talk to me, or worse to the baby, about it hmm. And yes Tgger I do have fun sometime at their expressions when the penny drops.

I agree it is a pain to be small too, but at least it doesn't undermine their confidence IME because they are praised a lot, protected and encouraged. Where I am from; "small is cute, big is stupid" (it rhymes too).

It doesn't help that children are really small here too, compare to the UK.

DD1 seems to be indifferent and very independent, but even at school she seems to be not noticed i.e. it is normal what she has achieved while others, just because smaller (height wise not age) or boys (another discussion), get praised for doing the same thing or even for achieving less. She will enter primary school in september so that might change, I hope.

I don't want them to feel they are stupid (as I did) which is not true (at least for them! grin).

But I am not sure how to handle it either. I think I have a thick skin and a resistance for bullying because I was left to deal with it alone, on the other hand I am second guessing myself a lot and am not very confident.
I guess that is why I am asking some advice here.

Also I don't want to praised them all the time, confident: OK, brattish: no grin.

I am also guilty that as DD1 has always been really mature, I do forget sometime that she is only little. I am also a bit casual with DD2 extraordinary physical abilities, but not sure how to stop her confused.

exexpat the pre teenage years! I don't look forward to it. If they follow my side of the family, they will be formed by 9 and adult height by 11. I think DH will run a lot and sleep with a shotgun...

cory Thu 26-May-11 11:57:42

I know it is worrying but try not to project any experience of your own on them.

I always thought my dd would be bullied because she is like me (swotty, verbal, with unusual interests)- but it never happened; she has always been very well liked. She is also an early developer, but has never had a problem with this.

Remember it takes two to bully: a potential victim on her own won't do it- there has to be someone who feels the need to perform the bullying, too. And nobody else to step in and say lay off my friend.

Your dd is not you- she may react differently, find it easier to have a protective peer group around her etc.

In all likelihood your dd will have her own unique problems in life. But they may be ones that you cannot possibly predict for her- so don't waste time and emotional energy in worrying in advance.

Tgger Thu 26-May-11 14:57:25

I think you will find school is much better than other environments- or I hope so.

Up to this year DS (the big one) had been in pre-school where the age range was 2.5-4/5. He was always as big as the older ones and yes, I think the staff did often expect him to behave more like them than his peers sometimes which is plainly WRONG.

Now at school nursery where it's just his age group it's been great. Partly due to a better/more stimulating environment, fantastic carers/teachers and maybe his age, he's thriving and doing brilliantly.

LeMousquetaireAnonyme Fri 27-May-11 10:52:21

"waste time and emotional energy in worrying in advance." I am worrying for now, just a bit concerned for the future but I don't usually project myself or make plans so I do it even less for my children.

Tgger She is in a mixed preschool 2 to 7. She is the youngest of the biggest group if that makes sense. She should be a year below, but they made a mistake on her age when she started and when I realised (everybody said happy birthday 6 months in advance confused), she was doing too well there to go back down. Which probably didn't help in the beginning but doesn't make a lot of difference now they are the oldest group though.
She was always very mature too so if she cried for me she will be dismissed as silly, however other children less mature and older would be comforted confused. It didn't happen a lot as she is really happy in her school.

I would expect her to be treated a bit more fairly for her age in school within the UK system in September.

As for DD2, I try to intervene when it is dangerous, older kids pushing her off the slides or nasty like shouting at her for not moving or not responding.

I tend to let them a lot of freedom when it is their time. Sometime when it is really blatantly unfair I would say "but they are only 6 or 1", but most of the time I let them be and deal with it. I am not sure if it is building their confidence or hindering them.

Ilovejudy Do you just go around and remind/tell everybody of how old are your children?

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