I knew the day would come. It was obvious that it wasn’t far away, and sometime this month, the inevitable happened. My tween grew taller than I am.
This isn’t shocking. I’m pretty ridiculously short. I’m not even 5’1” tall, though I do like to round up and say I’m that. And my tween has been asking to stand back-to-back for a while now as she (literally) inched up on me.
That is not at all surprising given that the tween years are marked by an insane amount of physical growth, especially in height. Every child is different, but on average, the overall puberty growth spurt begins around age 11 in boys and 9 in girls and can last between two and three years, according to a study published in Pediatrics.
My tween had been gradually getting taller over the past few years, and this summer she really took off.
That’s pretty textbook given that she’s not quite 12 and tween girls hit their growth spurt stride (technically called “peak height velocity”) at approximately 11 and a half years old. Researchers found that the greatest puberty growth spurt for boys occurs, on average, at age 13 and a half.
Growth in puberty accounts for approximately 20 percent of final adult height.
And yes, this explains why girls are so much taller than the boys in middle school. I may not be a scientist, but I could have come pretty close to guessing these peak ages based solely on watching the students pour out of the middle school doors at dismissal times.
Most girls reach their adult height between 14 and 15 years old and boys stop at approximately age 16, although muscle development continues beyond that, according to KidsHealth.org.
For tweens and adolescents to grow at the rate they should, they need to have adequate sleep and proper nutrition, as well as exercise. Don’t be shocked if your kid starts eating you out of house and home or sleeping a lot. Remember when they would do that as a baby right before a growth spurt? It’s the same thing.
Push the healthy foods as much as possible and make sure they’re getting lots of calcium -- their growing bones need it. In addition to dairy, decent sources of calcium include broccoli, leafy green vegetables, beans and even calcium-fortified orange juice.
If you have any concerns about your child’s growth and development as a parent, certainly bring it up with your child’s doctor. It seems parents are less likely to stay on top of annual checkups once kids hit adolescence and have received all their vaccinations. Monitoring growth, however, is one of the many reasons to make that annual visit.
Adolescents often struggle with standing out as the tallest or the shortest in the class at a time when they desperately want to fit in. Encourage kids to discuss any concerns they have with their doctor and health care providers, who will likely also be able to reassure them that not only are they normal, they are not the only ones to worry about those issues.
Parents can also reassure their adolescents that everyone develops at their own rate. Given the much of development at this age is related to genetics, you may have had a similar experience and can share your stories with them. They may roll their eyes, but it may also bring a modicum of comfort.
My tween, however, is just counting her lucky stars that she’s not as short as her mother. Guess it is all about perspective.
Although she’d like to be taller and have more time to dive into good books, Shannan is awfully happy with her life in the western suburbs, where she moved after a decade of living on the north side of the city. She blogs about parenting a tween at Tween Us on ChicagoNow and at Families in the Loop.
See more of Shannan 's stories here.
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