How to support your late blooming child
By Mical Imbukwa
You may know an adolescent or are a parent to an adolescent who seems to lag on many things in their lives. Probably, you are frustrated because you are convinced your child is a failure. Worry not.
Your child is likely a late bloomer, and late bloomers are children who develop slower than their peers in various aspects such as academics, social skills, or physical growth.
These groups may face unique psychological challenges because of a lack of understanding from society, yet they possess distinct advantages.
Parents play a crucial role in supporting their late blooming children through understanding, encouragement, and guidance.
Here’s a look into the psychological effects, advantages, and ways parents can support their late-blooming children;
Because they develop slower, late bloomers may experience lower self-esteem as they compare themselves to their peers, who seem ahead in various developmental aspects, such as physical growth, academics, or social skills.
Based on the societal standards of greatness, late bloomers may feel pressure to catch up with their peers, leading to feelings of inadequacy or social anxiety.
Because their nature and societal standards place them on the edge of not feeling good enough, late bloomers may take longer to establish their identity and may feel uncertain about their place in social groups or society.
Many parents place importance on their child’s performance in school and how great they are among their peers. Because of this unconscious bias, parents may pressure their late bloomers to pull up their socks, leading them to have feelings of inadequacy or underachievement.
Advantages of being a late bloomer
Because of the hurdles they face in their growth and development, Late bloomers often develop resilience and patience. This can be a valuable trait in adulthood.
In supportive environments, late bloomers can develop a strong sense of self and authenticity as they focus on personal growth at their own pace rather than conforming to external expectations and pressure.
Unique skills and talents
Late bloomers can demonstrate unique skills and talents that can come to light when put in spaces that encourage them to be their best. These spaces could be the right schools or homes with understanding and supportive parents or guardians.
Support from parents
Encouragement and validation
Parents are the first authority a child associates with and, therefore, have the power to build or break their children. When parents, therefore, provide consistent encouragement and validation to their late-bloomer children, emphasizing their unique strengths and talents without comparing them to peers, their chances of flourishing are higher.
Establishing open communication channels allows late bloomers to express their concerns, fears, and aspirations without judgment. This, in turn, helps parents understand their children’s perspectives and offer needed support.
Setting realistic expectations
Parents should set realistic expectations for their children, considering their pace of development and focusing on progress over perfection or comparing them to others who seem better than them.
Promoting a growth mindset
Encouraging a growth mindset helps late bloomers view challenges as opportunities for growth and learning rather than obstacles that can’t be overcome. Parents should emphasize the importance of effort, perseverance, and resilience.
Providing opportunities for exploration
As opposed to sticking to conventional ways, parents can support their late-bloomer children by providing opportunities for exploration and self-discovery in various areas such as academics, hobbies, sports, and social interactions.
Seeking professional help where necessary
Because of the pressure they are subjected to, late bloomers may get overwhelmed. Therefore, if they exhibit signs of significant distress or struggle with mental health issues, parents should consider seeking professional help from therapists or counselors specializing in adolescent development.
Because of societal conditioning, being a parent to a late bloomer can be frustrating. But with understanding, patience, and support from parents, late-blooming adolescents can navigate through this phase with resilience and confidence and ultimately thrive in their own time and pace.
Don’t lose hope in your late blooming adolescent. They are right on time. Support them!