Many slow starters catch up and may even pass the quick starters.
Normal children vary greatly in the way they grow, both in their bodies and their minds. Some children are quick starters and grow tall at a very early age, and some children begin to read and write and to learn arithmetic much sooner than others their own age. This doesn’t mean much, because slow starters often catch up and may even pass the quick starters.
There is no way of telling just how far any particular child is going to go in his development at any age. But normal children should never be worried if they are slow in growing, or in reading or writing. In a couple of years, they may jump way ahead of other kids their age, each child develops at his own special rate.
Development takes place in funny ways among normal children. Some learn how to read and write when they’re only four or five years of age, but can’t add or subtract numbers. Others can do all kinds of wonderful things with numbers, but they can’t read or write a word. Some children are husky and tall and have big muscles, but they can’t dress or undress themselves; others may be underweight and small, but can do all kinds of clever things with their hands. Some children at five or six may play the violin or piano beautifully, but they can’t throw or catch a ball.
We do know that boys and girls inherit certain things from their parents. And so we see that youngsters whose parents are excellent musicians often have children who develop musically at a particularly early age. And parents who are great athletes very often have children who develop ability in athletics far beyond most of their playmates.
The height of a child depends upon several things. First is heredity. If a child’s parents are tall, the child will probably be tall, too. Second is hormones. A child whose pituitary gland, thyroid gland, adrenal gland, and ovaries or testicles work properly can be pretty certain that he or she will develop normally, even if development is slow at first. Third, normal growth requires a proper diet with the right amount of proteins, sugars, fats, vitamins, and minerals. Children who are poor and cannot afford a good diet will not grow as tall as those who can eat properly. Fourth, illnesses that last a long time may slow down a child from reaching his full development and growth. When the child has fully recovered from such an illness, he usually catches up on his growth and mental development.
Growth doesn’t take place evenly. There are spurts during which a child grows quickly, and there are times when he doesn’t seem to grow at all. The first really big period of increased growth generally occurs between the ages of five and seven years. The second period of extremely rapid growth starts between the ages of ten and twelve years in girls, and twelve and sixteen years in boys. This means that girls of eleven and twelve tend to be taller than boys the same age. However, there isn’t any difference in the speed of mental development between boys and girls of the same age.
Some children are pretty unhappy because they are smaller than their playmates and schoolmates. Frequently they ask their parents to see if something can be done to correct the situation. If the child is healthy and his growth has not been slowed by a long- lasting illness or a gland condition, very little can be done to speed his growth. However, if he is small because of a gland condition or a long-lasting illness, it is possible to speed growth through medical treatment. But remember, the late growers usually catch up to the early growers all by themselves.
If your mother has a record of how tall you were when you were two years of age, you can get a pretty good idea of how tall you will be when you’re all grown. Just take your height at two years of age, and double it! If you were three feet tall when you were two years old, you will be six feet tall when you are fully grown.
By X-raying the bones of the wrists, doctors can sometimes tell how much more a child is going to grow. However, this isn’t a very valuable test unless the child is twelve to fourteen years of age.