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Psychological effects of being tall for age

(31 Posts)
MolotovBomb Fri 09-Nov-12 16:04:45

I hope that I'm posting this in the right place.

My DD1 is 3.9yo but could easily pass for a 5yo (long feet too; a child's 11). She has looked older than her age since she was about 8mo and has always been the tallest of the girls in her peer-group

I'm 5'8"; DH is 6'2", so she was always likely to be tall.

However, she's started saying 'so-and-so is smaller than me', 'so-and-so's feet are not as big as mine'.

This makes me worry because I have really suffered the effects of always feeling 'big'. In a nutshell, I was always the tallest girl in my class (then when I was about 14 other girls matched my height) but I was teased for it, and being fat. In hindsight, I wasn't fat. Maybe a little plump until I was 14 or 15, but not fat.

Anyway, it really knocked my confidence/ego ... my parents separated when I was 19 after my mother had an affair and it triggered an eating disorder in me. It manifested in anorexia nervosa because of the years of taunting, bullying and knocks to my self esteem.

So now you might be able to understand why 'oh, isn't she big?' comments really bug me. I want to scream at people "She's not that big, you fucking idiot!!" How do I stop allowing this to bother me? How can I prevent my (mostly) managed insecurities affecting my beautiful
little girl?


Kats2 Wed 17-Apr-13 17:39:42

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

CalamityJ Mon 14-Jan-13 16:06:45

5 foot 10 and the tallest girl in primary school. I loved it as it meant I was better at things smaller girls weren't (sports for example). Yes boys were intimidated but the positives always outweighed the negatives including being able to see over everyone's head at any event you go to grin. I got into clubs aged 14 (accompanied by adults and not getting drunk) and never got ID'd till I was 24!

"Lovely and tall" is perfect for how to describe her height. Big and tall aren't the same thing so if you can try and reevaluate that, and make sure she's the right BMI or is within reasonable range on the NCMP (national child measuring programme) then you might see things in a more relaxed light.

DoItToJulia Mon 14-Jan-13 16:02:50

Short women rock too, btw!

I kind of see where you are coming from pickled, but I was just worried that the OP may see your comment and think that she needed to downplay her daughters height or the sake of others. That I wouldn't recommend!

GetOrf Mon 14-Jan-13 15:49:16

It's lovely to see so many people veing positive about being tall. And OP you sound like a brilliant mother in this resepct, wanting to ensure that your d doesn't have insecurities about her height. I think if you can positively reinforce what your dh says that would be great.

I am a 6 footer and was from youngteens, and have always loved it. It's great being tall. My dd is a shade taller than me now, and although she went through a period of being self conscious she now likes being the tallest girl she knows, and all the benefits height brings.

pickledsiblings Mon 14-Jan-13 15:43:24

Yes DoItToJulia we do all want our children to have positive self esteem but it doesn't have to be achieved by patronising others as in ..."Oh poor Megan..."

OP I agree that you should stress the advantages of being tall to your daughter but not at the expense of others. None of us have any choice on the whole over how tall or short we are <I'm a shorty btw smile.>

DoItToJulia Mon 14-Jan-13 14:59:46

I'm another 6 footer! Size 9/10 feet.

I totally agree that when I was younger I looked older and was expected to behave older than my years. I remember distinct disadvantages to my height, like trying to find a ballet class and being told I was too tall, trying to go on fairground rides and being told I was too tall for the age appropriate ones and too young for the size appropriate ones. It was only as I got older that I found all of the advantages out!

Lots of people commented on my height and they did it a lot too. Eventually, it stopped bothering me. My DH is shorter than I am and that attracts the odd comment, but he just says how brilliant it is to be married to an Amazonian woman!

I am not sure I agree with the posters saying that commenting positively about your daughters height may have the effect of making her feel superior because of her impressive stature. Why wouldn't you tell her how awesome she is? Why wouldn't you tell her her height can be an advantage? Why would you ignore it when you can positively influence how she feels about it?

Fwiw I think that the OP has valid concerns and is a lovely mum for wanting to help her daughter have positive self esteem. And as you can see from this thread, tall women rock!

exexpat Mon 14-Jan-13 14:42:54

DD (10) has always been the tallest in her class, and she is also fairly solidly built. She doesn't seem to see it as a disadvantage - in fact she seems to like being the big, strong one, capable of putting the boys in their place when they are bothering some of the littler girls (a couple of her friends barely reach her shoulder). I think I was similar at that age - quite protective of my much smaller best friend.

I have pointed out to DD that although she is tall now, in a few years' time she will have stopped growing and some of her tiny friends may overtake her: I was my current height (5'5") by about age 12, and my smaller best friend ended up around 5'7".

Concrete advantages of being taller, in her eyes, are being able to reach further on climbing frames/trees, being able to go on more exciting rides at theme parks because she hit the minimum height requirements sooner, being able to give up her car booster seat etc.

The only downsides I have found to having much taller than average children (DS is also tall; he & DD both tracked the 98/99th centile curve) is that people think they are much older than they really are, and have corresponding expectations for grown-up behaviour etc. I got some odd looks and comments when they were two or three - but looked four or five - and were still in nappies, using a buggy or whatever. Luckily they are also both fairly mature in personality, so it is not an issue these days.

pickledsiblings Mon 14-Jan-13 14:29:53

Zavi, I understand where you are coming from and was thinking along the sames lines in response to this quote from the OP:

She's repeated about the friend of hers having smaller feet an I've said "oh, poor Megan: her feet will grow one day and then she'll be able to wear the same beautiful shoes as you."

Your daughter seems to be noticing that she is 'different' in terms of her stature but she doesn't appear to be judging herself as 'too tall'. You on the other hand OP are in danger of making her feel superior for being tall and it is just a simple flick of a switch to turn that on its head.

Far better to just point out that we are all different in one way or another but we are much more "the same'.

TheSecondComing Mon 14-Jan-13 14:15:21

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Zavi Mon 14-Jan-13 14:15:07

I don't think using the phrase "lovely and tall" is a useful as it implies that making qualitative judgements purely on the basis of stature is appropriate.

That is exactly what the OP wants to avoid!

Far better I think to simply discuss with daughter that her height has been passed down from mum and dad; that there is nothing that can be done to change that; that there is no need to change that; that she is exactly the way she is supposed to be.

Also perhaps point out to her daughter that other children will have other physical characteristics that will make them stand out - such as being the shortest in the class!

I think OP really is in danger of passing on her hypersensitivity re: height to her daughter if she's not careful. Perhaps some counselling would help her to address the issues she has in relation to stature.

Willemdefoeismine Mon 14-Jan-13 14:09:35

DD is a willow - very slim and tall (by white British standards) for her age, but because her school is very culturally mixed, she is only average height-wise in her year-group. Still think she's going to be a lot taller than her big bro though...she has that long, lean look and has always been on 90 centile for her height...

OverlyYappyAlways Mon 14-Jan-13 14:05:00

DS1 is 12, he is 6ft, he detests it as he is 'different' he does however love Basketball, I tell him when he and his friends are all 16-19 the one who think they are chubby small ones will grow taller, the tiny ones will also grow, DS friend has 'big ears' I said they will smaller and they will all look the same. blush

I talk to him about my Nephew he is 6'2" and happy enough!

DS2 is 8 years wearing 12 year old clothes in P4 and people think he should be in High School

gilmoregirl Mon 14-Jan-13 14:04:45

There are some lovely posts smile it is great to hear so many people with positive experiences.

I am 5'9" and have always been tall and used to hate it until fairly recently (at 39!)

I too associated being "tall" with being "big". Other girls did not help with their "wow your shoes are huge", or "you won;t fit into my clothes as you are so big" comments. Still feel big now probably as an effect of that.

A lot of the time I feel like Hagrid from Harry Potter around smaller women.

Agree that best thing is to ensure that your daughter is brought up to believe that being tall is positive - so many people say they would love to be tall.

She will be tall enough to go on fairground rides before other children (and will pass for 18 for cineme and pub earlier too wink plus will always have a good view at concerts and be able to reach items on high shelves.

TameGaloot Mon 14-Jan-13 13:53:40

One thing that is a positive for now as opposed to our childhoods is that there are tall ranges if clothes about.

NightLark Mon 14-Jan-13 13:22:20

I'm taking this in for my tall DS as well. I know it is different for boys in many ways (more admiration for tallness etc) but he is only Y2, the tallest in his class and hates, hates, hates standing out (very shy). A basic 'lovely and tall' seems just the thing for him as well.

yani Mon 14-Jan-13 13:13:15

Molotov - I was always one of the tallest in my class, and both dd's are tall for their age.

Both dd's are excellent runners, and I tell them to be happy to have nice long legs so that they can peddle the fastest or run the quickest etc

I agree with the athletics suggestion, how about netball too or maybe even horseriding? Is there a climbing wall near you?

I tell my dd's that they are like seedlings in the springtime and are growing into tall beautiful flowers. wink

VenusRising Mon 14-Jan-13 13:04:41

My Dd has always been tall, or long as she was called when born!
Taller than the boys also - 99 centile for boys.

I'm a pip squeak at five three.
All DHs family are really tall, so I fully expect our Dd to be tall.

I've also had the line " she's lovely and tall" and that she'll be helping me get pots out of the high cupboards before Christmas!

I was lucky to be "short" as my passion was dancing when I was a youngster, and the tall girls never got the parts at audition, but my DD loves running and basketball, and is very agile and strong, so her height will be an advantage to her.

I always had to intervene in the playground with the interfering busy bodies who commented DD was a cry baby as a toddler - they thought she was much older, and I would have to pipe up that she was younger than they thought, just lucky with the height fairy.

stealthsquiggle Wed 14-Nov-12 11:05:15

My 6yo DD is really proud of being the tallest in her class - she would be very indignant if someone put on a growth spurt and passed her. DS is also one of the tallest in his year, in spite of being the youngest by several months. He has occasionally been conscious of it, but talking to parents of the tiny DC in each year, they get a much harder time IMO.

guineapiglet Wed 14-Nov-12 10:56:16

Hi - loved all these positive comments about tallness. Thank you. I have a 16 year old who is getting taller by the day c. 6ft and very self conscious about it as well - she has had a lot of self image issues, and people always say ' ooh arent you tall' but in rather an insulting way - I mean what can she do about it but be positive and pleased about it, but it is hard. We are both tall, and I used to get called names like 'beanpole' at school. I am hoping she will stop growing soon and gather some bulk, as she is very slender and could do with filling out a bit. She was stopped by a photographer tho' on holiday last year and asked to do some modelling, it was probably a con, but it did boost her self esteem.
I shall remember lovely and tall, it sounds very positive.

Notquite Mon 12-Nov-12 20:36:31

I think I'm the shortest person on this thread. Feel like a bit of a squirt. sad

Notquite Mon 12-Nov-12 20:35:45

I think I'm the shortestbperson on this thread. Feel l

MolotovBomb Mon 12-Nov-12 20:28:18

More really positive, useful and encouraging responses smile Ive heard DH say 'lovely and tall' to her before, but it hadn't occurred to me belt now how positive this could be for her. I'll definitely increase my use of this.

She's repeated about the friend of hers having smaller feet an I've said "oh, poor Megan: her feet will grow one day and then she'll be able to wear the same beautiful shoes as you."

Comments like this seem to be putting the smile back on her face.

The good thing too, is that she has a baby sister (7mo). I am an only child, which I'm sure has something to do with how isolated I felt. It's likely DD2 will match DD1's height as their growth has been parallel so far. Nice to have two tall girls together smile

Thank-you all so, so much x

mmmmmchocolate Mon 12-Nov-12 20:01:35

Occult- that's a lovely thing your mother said smile when people used to say that about me my my mother would always say 'she's big the other way too' ie I was fat...

She also wouldn't buy me new clothes so I'd be the girl at school with the 'ankle swingers' and clothes that I'd long out grown. My DD's now have more clothes than they could ever need, I think I have some issues ;)

I'm 5.10 now (and still fat ;) and probably do have some issues but I hav accepted myself because I have 2 lovely girls that think I'm ace!!

What I'm trying to say is that other kids can be mean about absolutely anything, if you're there raising her self esteem and complimenting her and telling her how wonderful she is I think that is more important than anything!

Also my eldest DD was always tall people would comment on her size when they found out how old she was and she started nursery the second tallest in her class. Now she's in year 1 and she blends in with her friends, she's no taller than the rest of them. You may find that in time her growth may slow anyway.

TheAccidentalExhibitionist Mon 12-Nov-12 19:51:57

6 footer here. Being tall can be a real gift, if you allow it to be.
There was a lovely thread on here recently asking about people's heights. It was amazing to see how many tall and proud of it women there are on MN.

You already know that you don't want to pass on your negative experience to your gorgeous DD. Just being aware of that will help you think about things differently. Your DD is still so young you can still give her an amazingly positive view on her height.

My DS, aged 9 is very tall, in the 99th percentile. He also has ASD, he is mentally very young for his age and physically very tall for his age. It causes some confusion when people meet him but we've always told him how lucky he is to be tall. He'll be a gentle giant smile

Notquite Mon 12-Nov-12 19:38:57

occultgnu, 'lovely and tall' - my mum always said that. A good line to learn, MB.

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