I must say, it was my idea to write a humourous post about this topic. The more I thought about it, though, the more I decided against it. There is nothing funny about being tall, shy, ridiculed, or bullied! Even less so at a young age. Therefore what I will write about is serious – and I am sure that other parents will appreciate it more this way. I do hope that some of them will engage, too, as by exchange of ideas and tips we can help each other raise confident young people who are not ashamed of their height. After all, tall is beautiful.
So, what can we do to help our children grow confident and happy in their own bodies?
Never Too Early
It is never too early to start educating your children about body confidence. If they are anything like mine, height may start creating problems at a fairly young age. My son got called a bully by the dad of one of his classmates when he was not even five: simply because he was bigger and stronger, and that girl was tiny and fragile. Even at the nursery/kindergarten, my boy would sometimes send other kids flying, completely unintentionally. He just wasn’t aware of his own strength. Neither is my little daughter, who, too, is taller and stronger for her age. Let’s just say that, as lovely and smiley as she is, she gets herself into trouble simply because she doesn’t realise the consequences of her own actions.
Talk – A Lot
I remember that conversation my parents had with me. No idea how old I must have been at the time, but I’d imagine pretty young, as I had no blinking idea what they were on about. They explained to me that while growing up, I’d get to hear stuff like “giraffe”, “hose”, “What is the weather up there?” And more, more, more – more that I could ever imagine. That people would make fun of me and try to put me down.
Nothing To Be Ashamed Of
My parents also taught me that there was nothing for me to be ashamed of. That I was a lovely girl who just happened to be taller than everybody else – and that’s beautiful.
This is one of the most memorable conversations I have ever had with my parents, and I am eternally grateful for it. Which is one of the many reasons why my son and I talk about this – a lot.
It is important to teach children what it is to be different. For their own sake, and for everyone else’s. They need to learn that people are not the same, and that’s normal. Whether it is their height, weight, colour of their skin, religion or language, diversity is great. Kids should respect everyone else who looks different, and feel comfortable being different themselves.
Being Tall Doesn’t Mean You Are Better. Respect Others
There is a fine line between teaching a child to be proud of being tall/different, but also make him realise that he is the same as everybody else. My son went through a stage of bragging about being bigger and stronger. Who cares? You are what you are, and this doesn’t make you any better than the rest. Respect the others, and they will respect you back.
See the funny side
Don’t be oversensitive about it. If someone asks you what the weather is up there, or if they gasp at the sight of you, they may not necessarily mean this as an offence. It may be just a sign of surprise, dismay, even envy. Smile. Depending on who they are and how friendly/unfriendly they are, find something funny to respond with. My favourite comeback has always been “My parents used to put fertiliser in my shoes!”
Don’t Let People Bully You
Although it is nice to be nice, this doesn’t mean you should be putting up with being ridiculed. Finding a way to deal with offensive comments is a skill we learn, practise and master throughout life. The older you get, though, the more impatient you may get, and the ruder, for this matter. My own patience tends to wear thin nowadays, so in response to silly comments about how tall I am I usually shrug or gasp: “Am I? Really? I didn’t know this!!”
It is a matter of personal choice how to react to nasty comments: ignore, smile, or snap back. Which could be the topic for an entire new post! I am gathering examples of tall comebacks, so watch this space – next time for a humorous approach to this issue!