Have you ever mistaken a 2-year old child for a 4-year old?
I have several friends with children who have always been off the charts in the height department (usually boys). I remember one of my friend’s frustrations over the fact that “people expect too much from him. They don’t realize he’s 2." For example, if he was crying a in a supermarket, she would receive disdainful looks from fellow shoppers; it seemed as if they assumed that he was too old to be acting like a baby, when in fact he was a baby. Worse, they were critical of her for “allowing” him to behave like that. Even family members and close friends sometimes expected him to behave the age he looked instead of the age he was. This tended to result in them having less patience with his many questions, more frequent crying, difficulty doing things for himself, etc. They were also less careful about about giving him inappropriate toys and certain foods.
Such problems are particularly difficult if a toddler is very articulate. I know another child who is 2-years old and taller than my 4-year old. He is extremely bright and well-spoken. As a result, he fits in very well with older children, even though many children his age are still engaging in predominantly parallel play (playing side by side rather than with other children). I know that I sometimes have to remind myself that he’s only 2, but I’ve noticed that the older children assume he is older as well. They don’t understand why he enjoys imitating them, why he does not totally understand the concept of sharing (not that they have mastered it either), or why he still wears diapers. They repeatedly argue about who is “bigger” because, to the older children, “older” and “bigger” are the same thing. Meanwhile, my little guy just wants to be told he’s a big kid.
To the judgmental shoppers out there I say this: The next time you see any child throwing a giant fit in a store, mind your own business. Maybe that child is not the age he or she appears to be. And, regardless of their age, if you are a parent, please remember the times that you were in the same situation. If you don’t have children or are some poorly evolved father who has never taken his child shopping, most definitely save the attitude until you have walked three feet in that mother’s shoes. She is probably embarrassed and does not need to compound her troubles by seeing you shaking your head and rolling your eyes. Be kind.
And if you know a few tall toddlers, please remind yourself that they are new here!