Q: I have 11-year-old twins, and the girl is starting to shoot up faster than her brother, causing some tensions. I have tried to tell him that girls develop faster than boys at the start, but boys generally catch up and overtake pretty quickly. His father is well over six feet tall, but he still seems fretful. What is the message here?
Boy, oh, boy, do I ever remember this physical phenomenon of growth and development.
With my own kids (triplets: two boys and a girl), my daughter was the first to shoot up. It was more than two years before her brothers began to get their height. We all marvel at their b’nai mitzvah (the Jewish rite of passage for more than one child) photograph wherein she is towering over her brothers. And then one of the boys sprouted up, catching up and passing his sister, and leaving his brother in the dust. It really wasn’t until a few years after that each reached his adult height. Now my last-to-grow son is the tallest of the three!
What’s a mother to do? Feels like this falls into the category of wanting to protect your child from feeling bad—learning to live through life’s bumps. You can’t, and you shouldn’t.
It’s always tempting to remind parents that, in the greater scheme, this is not a problem. There are so many issues and problems that could befall a child. Let this be the very worst he ever has to experience.
As you well know, growing up must include learning to tolerate disappointment and frustration. So, here we are; this is your son’s reality. Oh, well. It is my guess that you may be giving this more attention than it needs. The trick is being an empathetic and caring ear … but not too much. Often when parents “care” too much, they inadvertently give the message that the child has reason to be upset. You fuel the fret, as you called it.
I hope your kids are being raised as individuals, each with his/her own separate interests, activities and friends. By so doing, your child will grow a sense of himself, not always in comparison to his sister (and vice versa). He will have the chance to develop and achieve in his own arena. And that he isn’t as tall as his sis will be no biggie.
I can’t wait to hear from you in a couple of years, when your son is talking “down” to everyone in the family from his place in the land of giants!