Children's Health and Wellness

Growing Up Short or Heavy Can Be Difficult

Each of us is unique; we come in different shapes and sizes. But that's an adult's view of the world. If a child thinks they're different from the other kids in his or her class, they can feel bad about it. A child who is shorter or heavier than others may be teased about that difference.

Many times, the parents' reaction to the situation determines how well the child accepts their height or weight.

Listen and understand when your child is describing how they feel about the situation. Then help your child see the problem in perspective and offer support. Focus on his or her strengths—artistic ability, sporting skills, or other talents.

Self-esteem really comes from family relationships. You can build self-esteem by spending time with your children and learning about their interests. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children need to develop or acquire some or all of the following characteristics for a healthy self esteem: A sense of security, belonging, purpose, personal competence and pride, support and reward, a sense of accepting mistakes along with failure and a sense of family self esteem.

The biggest reason that some children are shorter than their peers is genetics. Most short children have short parents. You can help your child grow to his or her natural maximum height in a healthy way by offering nutritious meals and making sure your child gets enough sleep and regular exercise.

Some children may have a growth delay, which means that a child is small for his or her age but is growing at a normal rate. Children with this delay usually reach puberty later than others their age, and they continue to grow until an older age. Often a child who has a growth delay has a parent who also went through a similar experience.

If your child is overweight, talk with your child's health care provider for suggestions on how to help your child slim down. The best way for your child to lose weight is to encourage him or her to exercise more and follow a healthier diet, says the American Academy of Pediatrics. You shouldn't limit how much your child eats, but offer healthier foods.

Print Source: Starting Out Healthy magazine
Online Source: American Academy of Pediatrics. Helping Your Child Develop a Healthy Sense of Self Esteem
Online Source: American Academy of Pediatrics. Physical Development of School Age Children
Online Source: American Academy of Pediatrics. Childhood Obesity
Online Source: American Academy of Pediatrics. Prevention and Treatment of CHildhood Overweight and Obesity
Online Source: American Academy of Pediatrics. Healthy Active Living for Families
Online Editor: Metzger, Geri
Online Medical Reviewer: newMentor board-certified, academically affiliated clinician
Online Medical Reviewer: Petersen, Sheralee, MPAS, PA-C
Date Last Reviewed: 4/28/2013
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