When Your Child Looks Older Than Their Age


My son is two years old, but he looks like he could be four or five. He’s tall. He’s in the 99th percentile on the growth chart. He’s wearing 4T clothing (sometimes 5T depending on the brand) and a size 10 in shoes. I see the questioning stares when strangers hear him babbling toddler talk instead of forming sentences. How old is he? He should be doing this by now, right? No. He’s only two. 

Trust me. I get it. I don’t mind being asked his age or the comments about his height. I actually love it. It shows that my sweet boy is healthy and growing.

I’m not surprised by it. His father is fairly tall. We expected this. But with this also means explaining to other parents that just because he’s tall for his age doesn’t mean he should be more advanced developmentally too.

It’s most difficult when I take him to the playground and the other kids think he’s older. They’ll try to explain a game to him, but when my sweet boy runs in circles and his speech is jumbled the confused stares say it all. They’ll look back to their parents wondering why he won’t play the game correctly. I know what it means. I then feel obliged to explaining, “He’s two.” The confused stares immediately turn into relief.

I’ve heard someone ask if he’s too old to be in his stroller or observe oddly as I lift him up to be seated in the shopping cart. I know what it looks like when others see his long dangling legs and assume he has to be much older. But he’s not.

This isn’t abnormal, however. Some kids grow faster than others and genetics play a huge role too. I have to remind myself that I can’t hide certain things on the countertop anymore because he’s tall enough to reach it. It’s impossible to ignore, but being mindful is the key.

  • We know that we’ll be asked to confirm his age when we go to certain places
  • We know that he’ll likely be the tallest in his class; especially since he has a late birthday
  • We know we’ll have to warn others what he’s capable of so that he’s not mistaken for an older child
  • We know that we’ll get suggestions or comments about what our son should or shouldn’t be doing under the assumptions that he’s older

Sometimes it’s forgotten that regardless of my son’s height, he should still be treated as his age. He’s still going to be a two-year-old doing two-year-old things, and even when he gets older I don’t doubt that he’d be the five-year-old that looks seven. Maybe one day his height will catch up to his age or he’ll just continue to grow. Either way, we’ve accepted that he’ll be that child that’s a bit bigger than the kids his age.


  1. I feel your pain! My daughter just turned three and is one of the youngest in her preschool class… but is the tallest. She is also the quietest… and the only one who says, “Please” and “Thank You”. She’s definitely larger than the other kids and a little different. And also in 4T/5T and size 9 shoes. Everyone thinks she’s at least 4. -fellow Charleston mom

  2. There were so many times I wanted my son to wear a sticker on his shirt that said “I’m 2 and no my parents are that tall” just so we could answer the questions they were about to ask. lol So important to remember their development over what they look like, great read!

    • lol I wish the same. That’s why I feel the need to constantly explain his age so that others are aware of what he may or may not be able to do

  3. I have the opposite situation. My son is probably the 4th percentile. He is 4, but a lot of 2 and 3 year olds are bigger than him. I get comments like, “He talks so well for his age” etc. Can’t people just give compliments without qualifiers? I agree that being mindful is a big part of it. I often introduce my son as my 4 year old son to head it off.

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