Fisher on adult capitalization of children’s size

Seymour Fisher, Body Consciousness: you are what you feel, Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall, 1973, 124-5

…we are pretty well unconscious of how often we “look down” in a depreciating fashion on children because they are small.  Obviously, the smallness of children is also cute and endearing, but many adults capitalize on it to reassure themselves of their own psychological stature.  Even the kindest of parents is impressed with the power contrast that is obvious in the size difference between his child and himself.  A fairly young child who begins to catch up with the physical size of his parents will elicit a different pattern of response from his parents than he did before his stature increased.  They will begin to see him as a more equal personage.  The adolescent who spurts up to an inch or so taller than his parents finds that he suddenly has a new kind of status with his parents.  He many not be much more psychologically mature than he was before his growth spurt, but physical size has a potency all of its own.  Indeed, the psychologically immature adolescent who attains mature size often finds himself in a painful dilemma because people expect him to act like an adult before he is inwardly ready to do so.


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