If your child comes home from school talking about being "fat," she may be being teased about her weight. Overweight kids are more likely to be bullied than kids who are at a healthy weight, according to a Canadian study that looked at the experiences of nearly 6,000 children ages 11 to 16.
Bullying, of course, is wrong. You should reassure your child and make her feel loved. If your child is overweight, you can also use this as a chance to work on being healthier together.
The Talk: Expert Advice For Every Age
Here are some tips from health professionals and parenting experts on how to talk to a child who has been teased about being overweight.
First, always comfort your child and make her feel loved, and reassure her that you'll work on the situation together.
"I love you. You're a beautiful girl. We'll figure this out and make it better."
Explain to your child that teasing and bullying is always wrong. Ask your child if she'd like you to talk to the teacher or principal and explain what's happening.
"It's absolutely wrong to make fun of people based on how they look. We're all different."
Start a conversation with your child about how the teasing made her feel.
"How did it make you feel when the kids talked to you like that?" Or "What do you think about what they said?"
If your child says that what happened made her want to lose weight, switch the focus to being healthy, not shedding pounds. Work together to come up with a plan. When your child is involved in the process -- by choosing healthy foods and activities, for example -- she'll be more likely to be invested in the plan and want to stick with it. Point out that we can all be healthier, whether it's exercising a little more or working on eating a little better.
"What matters is not how much you weigh, but how healthy your body is. What kinds of things do you think we can work on as a family for all of us to be healthier?"