Beating the Bully

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Bullying can happen for a number of reasons; however research indicates that weight is more important than gender, race, and socioeconomic status in predicting who will be the target of bullying among third to sixth graders. In addition, obese preteens are more likely to be bullied than their normal weight peers.

“If your child confides in you that he or she is being bullied, take the problem seriously,” says Greg Ramey, PhD, pediatric psychologist at Dayton Children’s.

“Bullying shouldn’t be dismissed as the teasing we all experience throughout our lives. Half of our kids are victims of bullying, which can involve physical threats or verbal intimidation either in person or over the Internet.”

Children shouldn’t have to suffer with hurtful name calling, threats, rumors, and intimidation. Work with your child to develop positive strategies to deal with a bully.

“It’s hard for children to talk about this problem, so compliment your child for bringing this to your attention,” says Dr. Ramey, “Listen to your child and ask them to explain their feelings.  Let them know that you understand their feelings and that it’s OK for them to feed ad or worried.”

Then, help your child figure out what may work in their situation, such as ignoring the bully, staying with group of friends, or avoiding situations where bullying typically occurs.

In addition, try some of these strategies to help your child focus on the positive:

Reassure your child that their value as a person is not determined by the number on their bathroom scale.

Talk about the importance of their academic achievement, relations with family and friends, and their moral development.

Also use an opportunity to discuss your child’s health and what he or she can do differently to live a healthier lifestyle.

Set and enforce a standard that all kids, even obese children, should be treated with respect and caring.

“Finally, if necessary, work with your child’s school,” says Ramey. “Working closely with parents and students, schools can send a strong message about bullying by setting and enforcing high standards of behavior.

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