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September 13, 2013

Bullied for Being Big

by Tracy Jensen

It’s not the story you expect to hear. The tallest, biggest, strongest kid in the class is involved in a bullying situation — as the victim. And the victim is a boy. My friend’s son is both the youngest kid and the biggest kid in the grade. He has a sweet heart and a huge, fun personality. He would never hurt a fly. And there is a group of kids who, for years, have decided they can get a great reaction from him by calling him the fattest kid in school.

Believe it or not, a survey among educators reported that body image issues might affect as many as 30% of boys (and 50% of the girls, too). Boys are presented with images and cultural standards that, while may not be focused on “beauty,” certainly set an expectation of fitness and strength that isn’t easily attained when you are a pre-teen. So how, as a parent, do you not only help your kids develop a healthy self-image, but also combat the kids that will go for your weak spot?

If I could, I would surgically implant a filter in children that would allow them to cut through the drama and see possible underlying motives as to why people bully. In this case, perhaps my friend’s kid may notice that the boy who is calling him fat may be fighting his own battle with self-image. By projecting his own self-judgment onto another kid, by deflecting attention on someone else.

But there is no filter or switch, and taking yourself out of the equation like that to consider other people’s motives is, for sure, an advanced-level maneuver. I have found this article with ideas to help foster a positive body image in teens, but what advice have you given when your kids felt either bullied or self-conscious about their appearance?

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