As adults, we know that the height of a person should not be a basis for undue discrimination against them or something to be used as ammo to make jokes. But for children, short stature is something that is used to bully someone. From a very young age, children start comparing their height with other children, the same age. This may be because they equate growing up to only the increase in their height, possibly because this is the most evident change they notice in themselves. Being taller than their peers may mean they could get to be their ‘leader’ or they get to go in the deeper end in the pool or even that they can go on rides which their peers cannot. In contrast to this, or rather as an extension of this, for children short height means that they cannot live up to their peers.
This may lead to shorter kids to being bullied as sometimes they may not be able to perform simple tasks as well as their peers, which include:
- Not being able to reach a shelf or a hook to hang their jackets;
- Not being able to reach the top of the board in their classrooms;
- Being grouped with younger children and assumed to be of a younger age than they are;
- Not being allowed on rides or other places, such as movies, other kids are allowed on because of not meeting the height requirement or people making an assumption about their age;
- Getting the kids menu at restaurants;
- Not being able to pull off the outfits like the other children their age because of lack of outfits in their sizes.
- Being ignored by other people in case they are in groups of people taller than them.
Being faced with such challenges on a regular basis can be detrimental to the emotional well being of the child, in addition to them not being able to make friends easily. Around 80% of a child’s height is dependent on the genetic build-up they inherited from their parents. That’s why it is very likely that children who are short at younger ages may continue to be shorter than average as an adult. It is important that parents help their children to overcome the challenges that are presented by their short stature. To do so, they may adopt the following practices:
- Consulting Pediatricians: In children short stature may also indicate some underlying medical conditions such as:
- a) Growth hormone deficiency or Thyroid hormone deficiency;
- b) Conditions in which the skeleton responds abnormally to the hormones;
- c) An underlying illness which stunts the normal growth in the children;
However, most of the time the short stature in children is because of the genetics they inherited along with inadequate nutrition.
- Healthy Eating: Give your kids healthy food which is rich in proteins, vitamins, minerals, and carbohydrates. A balanced meal helps provide the essential nutrients which are required for developing and maintaining a healthy growth rate in the children Make sure your children do not skip meals and all their meals are at the same time every day. Healthy eating habits boost the metabolism of the children and provide them with energy.
- Physical Activities: In addition to healthy eating habits, children should also be encouraged to participate in moderate to vigorous physical activities daily for a minimum of one hour per day. Encourage your children to participate in the sports teams at their school, play games which require physical movement rather than sitting around all day. In addition to it, include your children in the chores around the house to limit idle time.
- Adequate Sleep: Encourage your children to go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day, even on the weekends. They should get adequate sleep for children their age which is 10 to 12 hours for children less than 6 years old and 8 to 10 hours for children aged 6 years to 18 years. Allow the children to nap for 30 minutes during the day in case they get too tired.
- Good Posture: In children short stature may also be a result of stunted growth due to bad posture. Bad posture, such as slouching, can often result in adverse health effects in the long run in addition to them not achieving their full potential height. Increase the awareness of posture in our children as well as educate them on the benefits of a good posture. Get them posture rectifying devices, if needed.
There are many over-the-counter powders and pills which are promoted such supplements claiming to increase the height in children, as well as supplements for vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. Do not give these to your children without consulting a pediatrician. In addition to helping your children with boosting the growth rate in them in order to increase their height, make sure sufficient emphasis is given on the fact that people are not defined by their height. Help boost the self-confidence in your children to ensure their emotional well-being.