A 14-year-old boy comes in for a yearly exam and confides in the nurse that he feels embarrassed he is shorter than most of the girls in his class. He asks if he will catch up in height. The best therapeutic response from the nurse is

  • “There is no reason to be embarrassed. Everyone feels awkward at this age, not just you.”
  • “Puberty is a difficult time, but everyone grows at a different rate. In a few years, you will likely be taller than many of the girls.”
  • “So you feel embarrassed just because you are short? You shouldn’t care about what the girls think.”
  • “I’m sure there are other kids in your class shorter than you. Don’t worry about it too much.”
Number 2 is correct.
The most therapeutic response is to address the client’s concerns and answer honestly. Since the boy has just begun puberty, it is probable that he will grow taller than girls his age within a few years. Girls tend to hit height growth spurts before boys, and this is normal and expected development. The other responses invalidate the boy’s feelings and do not explain anything about puberty.