How can I help my son be comfortable with his smaller stature?
Q: I am a mom of 3. A 10-year-old boy, 6-year-old boy, and a 6-month-old girl. My 10 yr old is of average height for his age, now my 6 yr old is extremely tall for his age. He is off the charts and is only an inch shorter then his brother. People are always coming up to them and saying "Oh twins". It makes my older son very upset. I tell him not to pay any attention to them but he's very upset. What should I say to my son? And what do I say to these people who say this?
A: To start with, lead by example. The people who say these things to your boys are probably not being malicious and deserve the benefit of the doubt. If you overreact to their comments, your son will, too. Politely correct them and let it go. As far as your older son goes, start by validating his feels. Validation simply means letting him know that it makes sense to you that it is upsetting to him. Don’t feel the need to talk him out of his feelings or make him immediately feel better. Simply let him know that you know it is hard on him and that it is ok to feel frustrated sometimes and leave it at that. You don’t need to make excuses for the people who make these comments or try to convince him that he shouldn’t worry so much about it. Once you have validated his feelings, it is ok to move on. This allows him to self-soothe and follow your lead. Having said that, it is also a good idea to make sure that you take opportunities outside of those moments (not during them) to praise your older son for all of his wonderful qualities. Height is something that is beyond your control (and his) but working hard, being thoughtful and caring, being a good big brother, helping around the house, etc. are things he can control. The more you praise these kinds of thing, the more pride he will feel in those achievements. The key is not to minimize his feeling about being smaller, but to maximize his strengths as an individual.
Answered by Jeff Palitz, MFT