My son is teased at school

March 9, 2021 by No Comments

Dear Dr. Ellen: I have an 8-year-old son. He is a large child. Both his father and I are large (not necessarily fat). His dad is big boned and so is he. My son weighs 100 lbs. but the doctor said he is only about 10 lbs. overweight. The doctor said not to worry because he is perfectly healthy. My son is bigger than his classmates. The problem is that he is getting picked on. The other kids call him “fatso” and stuff like that. My son is not one to fight and he gets his feelings hurt. How can I help him handle this problem? My son will be bigger than kids his age from now on. He is built just like his dad. I am frustrated and hurt because I do not know how to help him. My son is very handsome but now, even at 8 he is starting to obsess about his looks and build. If you could give me some advice I would appreciate it. – Laura

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Dear Laura: First of all, I’m glad you took him to the doctor to find out that he’s in good health. The most important thing you can do for your son is to let him know that it is safe to share his feelings with you. Set aside some time each day for him to share his day. Be there for him and it will make all the difference in the world as he grows to manhood.

As a mother of three I know this is breaking your heart right now. I want to assure you that most children are picked on, or made fun of, at some point in their lives. Whether it’s someone who is called, “Bucky Beaver” because of their buck teeth, “four eyes” because they wear glasses, “Ugly Green Giant” because they are tall, “fatso” because they are overweight, “Dumbo, the Flying Elephant” because they have big ears (that was my nickname), children are cruel.

I believe they have to be taught compassion, understanding and tolerance. Children lash out at other children and cause them pain if they are experiencing pain in their own lives. A child in your son’s class may be living with an abusive parent and have no control at home so he comes to class and let’s out his frustration and anger on his classmates. A good-natured son like yours who comes from a loving home with parents who care, is no match for a neglected, verbally or physically abused child at his age. I’d get him involved in a hobby, sport or club as soon as possible so he begins to feel good about himself. Keeping your son active and involved will counteract the hurt he feels when he’s called names.

I just saw a movie on TV about Tiger Woods. At one point when Tiger tells his mom how unfairly he’s being treated because of the color of his skin, she says, “Tiger, don’t talk back with your mouth, talk back with your golf clubs.” I wonder who has the last word today!

Research the programs offered in your neighborhood, the extracurricular activities at his school and let him try everything until he finds something he really likes. For example, it might be a musical instrument, civic projects, art, drama or sports. The more he is exposed to, the better his chances are for developing lasting friendships with other kids who have similar interests. Encourage your son to excel by hard work and dedication. Let him know that the children who are hurting him are hurting as well or they wouldn’t be so cruel.

I’d also have a meeting with his teacher and let him or her know what’s going on. Suggest he or she have a lesson on kindness, tolerance and acceptance and how our behavior can affect others. If you don’t get any help, I’d go straight to the principal and explain what needs to be done in the classroom. And let’s not forget an area where “size does matter” – in sports. Someday he might be a welcome addition to any football, basketball, wrestling or track team. – Dr. Ellen.

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