7-9 YEARS OLD

Be­ing teased about her weight can be trau­matic for your tween, and you should take it se­ri­ously, says DR RICHARD C. WOOLF­SON. He of­fers strate­gies to help your child deal with the bul­ly­ing.

Young Parents (Singapore) - - CONTENTS -

Help your tween deal with her mean friends who tease her about be­ing over­weight.

Bul­lies pick on chil­dren who seem soli­tary and iso­lated, so en­cour­age your kid to spend time with class­mates who don’t tease her.

A child who knows she’s plump will feel down, iso­lated, and re­jected when her so-called friends crack fat jokes at her ex­pense.

At this age, friend­ships are very im­por­tant. She wants to be part of the in-crowd, to be ac­cepted by her peers and to have lots of pals.

That’s why she will be very up­set if some of the other girls are mean to her about her body size. Teas­ing about any as­pect of phys­i­cal ap­pear­ance is a form of bul­ly­ing and no­body likes to be the tar­get for ver­bal abuse or in­sults.

Like all bul­ly­ing, teas­ing is an abuse of power in a re­la­tion­ship in which one per­son (the child mak­ing fun of an­other) is per­ceived as strong, threat­en­ing and dan­ger­ous by the other (the vic­tim).

It’s the per­cep­tion of power that mat­ters. The bully is con­strued as stronger, and it is this per­ceived im­bal­ance of power that en­ables the dom­i­nant child to take com­mand.

The vic­tim feels even worse when she knows that she is over­weight, wishes she was not so large, and yet feels pow­er­less to lose weight.

All these fac­tors com­bine to sap her so­cial condence – re­peated teas­ing has this neg­a­tive ef­fect – and she has an up­hill strug­gle to beat the abuse in such a pes­simistic frame of mind.

If your pri­mary-schooler is in this sit­u­a­tion, the rst step in help­ing turn things around is to let her see that you take her dis­tress se­ri­ously.

Re­mem­ber that it takes a great deal of courage for her to ad­mit to you that some of her peers ridicule her body size – she may be wor­ried that you’ll think she is mak­ing a big fuss about noth­ing or that you’ll blame her for al­low­ing her­self to be­come so large.

So, lis­ten to her com­plaints, don’t make her feel silly, and let her know that you recog­nise the prob­lems she faces. She will start to feel bet­ter just know­ing you are there to sup­port her.

Here are some other sug­ges­tions for teach­ing your young one to cope with emo­tional bul­lies: Walk away

Per­suade her to do this when­ever the mean girls ap­pear to move in her di­rec­tion. This is not an act of weak­ness – in fact, it is sen­si­ble.

When she does move out of the line of ver­bal re, she should do this slowly, with­out run­ning. Ig­nore the bully

En­cour­age her to show as lit­tle re­ac­tion as pos­si­ble to the other girls’ nasty re­marks. Teas­ing of­ten stops when the vic­tim dis­plays in­dif­fer­ence to the taunts against her. Ig­nor­ing ver­bal abuse is difcult, but it can be done suc­cess­fully.

Stick with friends En­cour­ageas much time your as kid pos­si­bleto spendin the com­pany of other chil­dren who don’t make fun of her, espe­cially dur­ing re­cess in the school play­ground or out­doors af­ter school. Bul­lies pick on chil­dren who seem soli­tary and iso­lated. Show pos­i­tive body lan­guage Teach her this so that she looks as­sertive and condent. For in­stance, she should walk with her shoul­ders held back, her back up­right and her eyes look­ing di­rectly in front of her, not to­wards the ground. In­volve adults if nec­es­sary If teas­ing oc­curs in school, talk to your her teach­ers, but in­sist they act dis­creetly with­out specically men­tion­ing her name. Or if you al­ready know the bully’s par­ents well, you could con­sider hav­ing a conden­tial chat with them.

Take con­trol Your tween might want your help in re­duc­ing her weight. If so, en­cour­age her to reg­u­larly ex­er­cise and ad­vise her about healthy eat­ing. But at the same time, make it clear that your love for her is not con­di­tional on her body size.

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