Dear Ms. Finn,
I have an 11 year old boy. He is not obese, but tends to lean on the heavier side.
Recently he was invited to a boy/girl pool party and refused to go because he considers himself “fat”.
I encouraged him to go and he still refused. I tried to convince him that he wasn’t fat and that this was, after all, his best friend’s B-day party. I didn’t make him go. Instead, we sat down and discussed that if his weight is this bothersome that he would either need to accept himself as is and be comfortable with it, or watch what he eats in order to lose the weight he felt he needed to.
I’m worried that his may become a problem for him. He is very active- he plays soccer twice a week, golf at least once a week and scouts.
I’m concerned and need some advice on where to go from here.
As more and more children are exposed to social media, they are coming face-to-face with the unnatural standards that media has placed upon beauty and attractiveness. Young children, who have no business stressing about what they look like, are suffering the ill effects of poor self-image.
This is exactly what happened to Ronnie’s little boy, who was too self-conscious to attend a pool party because of belief that he was “fat”. Ronnie admits that his child is slightly overweight but he does his best to keep his son active and healthy.
While Ronnie’s efforts to keep his son healthy are commendable, his little boy does not have a problem with being overweight. He has a problem with self-esteem and lacking confidence. Unfortunately, the reason could be coming from a dozen different directions.
The main focus for Ronnie should be working on his son’s self-assurance and the sooner he does, the sooner his child will feel better and stronger about himself and his capabilities. Once this strength of character begins to emerge, these “problems” will begin to fade away.
Studies have shown that self-esteem levels in preschool aged children is very high, at about 80%. However, by 7th grade, those level drop to about 20% and by the time your child is in high school, it plummets to a measly 5%. That’s a 75% drop in that precious commodity which helps us cope with the world from childhood to teenagehood.
All children need to be confident and be sure of their own worth and value. This does not mean they need to be selfish or boastful – they need to feel strong about themselves in order to develop a healthy sense of independence.
There are many books and resources available in helping your child increase their self-esteem, confidence and worthiness. Any child who feels poorly about themselves do so because society gives permission for these kids to be ridiculed.
Although there are laws to protect children from bullying, they are difficult to implement. Most children at some point face the taunting and teasing of their peers – the only thing protecting them is their self-esteem.
It is important to remember that the problem does not involve your child’s weight, but the level of their self-confidence. Please don’t force your child, even if they are overweight, onto a weight loss diet. This only confirms their belief that being “fat” is the source of their social problems.
It may be the source of physical issues, for which case a lifestyle change is healthier and more effective. It has been proven that yo-yo dieting and fad diets only cause additional weight gain in the long term.