Self-esteem - how we feel about ourselves - is an important issue for all children. A feeling of physical inadequacy can cause children of growth disorder to become withdrawn and timid. They may feel that others do not accept them or that they are not very important. Shorter children may be treated as though they are younger than their actual age.
Sometimes parents unknowingly contribute to this problem by dressing their child in younger styles, or by having lower expectations for their child. It is important for parents and teachers to treat a shorter child according to age, not size.
The teenage years are an especially important time to be aware of your child's self-esteem. Most teens want to look like their peers. As other children are going through their growth spurts, the gap between them and your child may become more obvious. Sexual maturity may also come later for your child. Shorter teenagers may deal with these kinds of stresses by being quiet and withdrawn.
What to look for
- Does your child act in a younger or more immature way than other children of the same age?
- Is your child often quiet and withdrawn?
- Is your child unkind or mean to other children in the family?
- Does your child make negative remarks about himself or herself?
- Does your child avoid social events, like school activities or parties?
Helping your child with self-esteem
- Again, treat your child according to age, not size. Explain to others why this is important, and ask them to treat your child in an age-appropriate way.
- Help your child dress appropriately for his or her age. Be aware of what type of clothes your child's peers are wearing. Letting your child make decisions about his or her clothing choices may help.
- Listen to your child's concerns. What may seem to be a minor thing may be a very important issue to your child.
- Encourage your child to talk about positive feelings as well as negative feelings. It's important for your child to be able to talk about feelings and emotions. Let your child know that his or her feelings are important to you.
- Encourage your child to focus on the positive things in life. Find positive, active ways to handle problems.
- Help your child explore and develop interests in hobbies, sports and other activities. If your child shows an interest or talent in a certain activity, support this interest.
- If necessary, seek professional counseling for your child. Developing self-esteem is important for all children. Children of growth disorder may need a little extra help.