15 Moms on What It's Like to Have the Shortest Kid in Class

15 Moms on What It's Like to Have the Shortest Kid in Class
Image: iStock.com/MarsBars

little boy getting height measured

I'm 5'9", so for most of my life I've been considered tall. But I wasn't always on the top of the growth chart. I still distinctly remember being the shortest girl in my first grade class. It bothered me so much that I used to walk on my tiptoes to seem taller.

I'm pretty sure I wasn't fooling anyone.

For moms, it can be easy to get obsessed with growth charts and to think that bigger is better. But just like adults, kids come come in all sizes, and there is always going to be someone rocking the fifth percentile. 

Moms who have a little one who is, well, a little one, have an interesting perspective. Some of them find their kids' size makes them extra fierce or scrappy. Others wish people would keep their comments on their kids' size to themselves! Read on for the frustrating, funny, and sometimes sweet experiences of kids who are small but mighty. 

  • Small & Fierce

    little kid superhero

    "My daughter is just in kindergarten now but is the shortest in her grade. It doesn't seem to bother her but may have made her more fierce than she would have otherwise been. She tends to be quite assertive about not being overlooked socially.

    "Sometimes it works to her advantage because older girls especially think she is adorable and will allow her to hang around with them. It is harder for her to get into sports though, especially things that have more kids running at each other like soccer, because she just gets plowed over. -- Amber W., Saint Paul, Minnesota

  • Delayed Start

    teacher and kids playing

    "My daughter is 4 and one of the smaller kids in her class. She tells me the other kids call her a baby a lot. We're gonna wait a year before starting her in kindergarten to let her catch up a bit in size to her peers." -- Anna M., Denver, Colorado

  • Superhero Fan

    kid in cape

    "My youngest, age 4, is the shortest in his preschool, and given his genetics, he will likely always be the shortest. It doesn't seem to bother him but I think it somewhat explains his obsession with superheros like all of the Avengers and the Hulk.

    "He also used to ask me if he was growing taller a lot, but once we started marking [the kids'] heights on a wall, he could see for himself the progress he's making. He just doesn't know it's not much progress compared to his brothers!" -- Michaela A., Salina, Kansas

  • Former Preemie


    "People always comment how small my daughter is. It's weird because neither my hubby nor I are short, and my immediate reaction is to tell them 'she was a preemie!'

    "Like she needs an excuse for being small." -- Jennifer Y., Saint Paul, Minnesota

    More from CafeMom: Child Growth Charts: What Those Percentiles Really Mean

  • Not a Baby

    little kids playing

    "My preschool-age daughter is very small -- eighth percentile, according to the pediatrician -- and learned quickly to say 'I'm not a baby, I'm a big girl!' because her classmates were trying to pick her up and calling her 'baby Selma.' The whole thing was pretty frustrating for her." -- Ashlee T., Richmond, Virginia

  • Don't Call Her Cute

    little girl pink skirt

    "My daughter is lower than the first percentile for height and weight and is in kindergarten. An older kid exclaimed 'You're just a toddler' when he saw her in the hall earlier this year. I asked Bridget how she responded and she said she just stared at him. She regularly gets comments about her size (even her shoe size -- toddler 8) and she's a bit self-conscious sometimes.

    "But mainly people (kids and adults) frame it positively by viewing her as 'cute' and I know people mean no harm and I try not to overthink it. But I think 'girl + small = cute' is very gendered and somewhat dangerous. I don't want her to view her body as an ornament or something that needs to be kept small.

    "She recently asked me if she did something wrong as a baby and if that's why she's so small. But mainly she seems fine with it, understanding that size is part of human diversity." -- Marian H., Saint Paul, Minnesota 

  • Older Than She Looks

    woman talking to little girl

    "Sometimes strangers think my daughter is brighter or more articulate because they assume she's about 4, not 6, and they'll gush a little. I noticed that the reverse would happen with my super tall neighbor boys -- folks would be so harsh, expecting 'more' of them. People just need to let kids be kids." -- Tonya W., Arlington, Virginia 

    More from CafeMom: 10 Creative Ways to Track Your Child's Growth After the First Year (PHOTOS)

  • Short & Scrappy

    kid measuring height

    "My son is the shortest kid in the class but he is scrappy, so he doesn't seem to mind it. I think it also helps that he knows that my brother was short most of his life and then got really tall in college. My brother graduated high school at 5'8" and graduated college at 6'4", so my son says 'I'll get big when I'm bigger.'" -- Allison L., Kentwood, Michigan

  • Just the Right Size

    little boys walking with arms around each other's backs

    "I'm 5'1" and my husband is 5'2", so our two boys are the shortest in their preschool and kindergarten classes and probably always will be. Shorties for life! We've had some conversations about what they can say when people talk about their height, which happens annoyingly often. My 4-year-old now is getting braver about telling people that he is just the right size." -- Angie R., Milo, Iowa

  • Perfect for Dancing

    mom measuring daughter's height

    "My daughter is and has always been a peanut. She handles it pretty well when kids at school always want her to play the baby when they play family or try to pick her up. One thing that I think is good for her self-esteem is that we have her in activities like dance and gymnastics where her size is an advantage." -- Lori K., Houston, Texas

  • Little & Confident

    two little boys standing back to back

    "I have fraternal twins -- VERY fraternal. Alex is a head taller than Sam and has been bigger than him since birth. I think it bugs Sam but he stands up for himself. The other day [Sam] told him 'you're taller than me but I'm much more handsome,' so I'm feeling okay about his self-confidence so far." -- Kelli L., Milwaukee, Wisconsin

  • Big Personality

    little boy posing by a tree

    "I'm kind of glad my son is on the smaller side. He is a huge ham! He has such a big personality, always singing and dancing. I think he gets away with it more because he is cute and small." -- Erin D., Seattle, Washington

  • Little Monkey

    little girl playing on monkey bars

    "My daughter is 4 and is still just about 30 pounds. She can still wear a 2T and looks really young. But if you put her in a tumbling class or on a jungle gym, she climbs like a little monkey. She is stronger than she looks. 

    "She has a June birthday so she could start kindergarten in the fall, but I think we'll hold her back. She's academically ready but probably not socially ready, and that plus her size make it seem like a good idea to give her an extra year to grow." -- Lindsay D., Minneapolis, Minnesota 

  • Short Role Models

    little boy with soccer ball in front of goal

    "My son is the shortest kid in his class and on his soccer team. He is really fast though, so it doesn't seem like a problem so far. I do worry it will be an issue at some point, especially because he wants to play goalie and that is usually a job for a bigger guy. 

    "One thing that is cute is that he has a list he keeps of short professional athletes. He calls it his inspiration list." -- Val E., Newton, Iowa

  • Strong & Healthy

    mom dad and son exercising

    "When I was 14, I was only 4'4" and so I had surgery to lengthen my legs. It was a brutal experience and I was in a wheelchair for months. I'm 4'10" now and my husband is 5'5", so our kids will very likely be short. 

    "I really want them to feel good about themselves and to not feel like their body is a problem to be solved, so we try to focus on being strong and healthy.

    "I have, however, been known to snap at strangers who comment about them needing to eat more and stuff like that. People -- mind your own business!" -- Michelle G., Queens, New York

toddler development kid health kindergarten

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