Tag: Bullying

Fat is the new F Word

“Do I look fat?” – Nikki, Age 4

Words that I never thought I would hear my four year old say. Words that shocked, stunned and hurt me all at the same time. I thought I had a few more years to worry about body image. Let’s face it many of us have gone through it or possibly still going through it. I know that I did in my teenage years. However, I was not prepared or expected this at age four.

Only Takes One Word

It took only a simple sentence, “How was your day today?” Then the tears started to roll down her precious face. My daughter looked up at me and said, ” Do I look fat?” I wondered how and why this came up. I told her that of course she was not fat and asked her where she got that idea from. She started to explain that a little girl from her class keeps calling her fat and has even started to tell the other kids in the class that “Nikki is fat.” After further discussing the situation, it appeared that this has been happening for a couple of months. At this moment, I felt my heart completely shatter as words were hurting my child and I know that words hurt so much more.

For the first time, I saw the confidence that my daughter exemplified fade away with just one little word. One little word that chopped down her self-image that we have been working so hard with her to maintain. At first I felt defeated like I have failed somehow in this parenting journey but then I remembered that we are just getting started.

Plan of Action

After getting Nikki’s side of the story, it was time to put a plan of action on what we were going to do next. The first step was to talk to Nikki and remind her of what she needs to do in school when she finds herself in this type of situation again. We gave her the following three steps to follow:

  1. Tell the child to stop and tell them why you don’t like what they are doing. In this situation, tell them that they are hurting your feelings.
  2. Tell the teacher what is happening as they need to be aware of what is happening in the classroom.
  3. Tell parents and discuss the situation.

Now as a parent, I had to take action as well as I needed to bring my concerns to the teacher and have it addressed immediately. The process at my daughter’s school is to write in a communication book that the teachers review every day and this is where I wrote my (lengthy) note. However, with my emotions on high, as soon as I saw her teacher on the morning drop-off I spilled my heart out. I informed her of everything that happened which also shocked the teacher. She informed me that this behaviour was not acceptable and they would have this conversation in class. This made me feel a little better but not completely.

As I waited for my daughter to go into school that morning, she became the Nikki that I love and raised. She confidently walked about to the little girl who had been calling her fat and said, “I didn’t like what you said about me and that is not very nice. So stop!” The little girl looked stunned and Nikki walked away to line up to go into class. She then turns to me and gives me a thumbs up and a wink.

It was an extremely proud moment for me as Nikki stood up for herself. Her confidence was inspiring!

 

Building Self-Image

We are starting the re-building phase of a very impressionable 4-year-old. We remind her every single day that beauty is only skin deep and true beauty is within. She needs to love herself and the only opinion that matters is her own. If we can empower that, then I know she will be set for life.

Self-image is so important to build and we realize now that it is a daily lesson for us all.

Today’s Lesson

With every parenting situation we come across it becomes a learning opportunity. This was one for my books as body image and bullying was not in my 4-year-old forecast. But it is now and we are working together to combat it.

My advice to other parents is to talk with your children about body image and let them know that certain words hurt people. If your child is being made fun of, let your child know that it isn’t right to do it back too and they can follow our three simple steps above. We had to make sure our daughter knew not to retaliate as it wouldn’t be acceptable.

It’s important to stop the cycle instead of encouraging it as part of the “normal” for kids. Also make sure your kids love themselves. If we truly love ourselves, our self-image will always stay true.

So far, that little girl has been nicer to Nikki and does not call her “fat.” I’m hoping that this new “F” word doesn’t make an appearance in the classroom again. However, I am confident that if it does we will all be ready!

Until next time…Happy Parenting!

-Momma Braga

 

 

 

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Fitting in Versus Standing Out

By: Grace Cross
Twitter: @grace_cross1000

No parent wants their child to come home and cry that they’re being bullied.  They do not want to hear how their baby, whom they loved and raised, is being teased for not having the latest style or following a trend. As ridiculous as it sounds, a child can be bullied by their peers if they are not wearing the fashion of the minute. Out of fear, some parents will overspend, even go into debt so their children are wearing expensive fashion of the moment, so they fit in with their peers. However, this sends a clear message to the child, to follow what other’s tell them is the right thing to do. We want to raise independent children who know the value of a dollar and children whose personal creativity should shine. WE want our children to be individuals and stand out verses fit in.

Growing up as a child in the early 90s, many pre- teens were dressing in their baggy jeans and band tee shirts. Children as young as eleven wore heavy eyeliner and mascara. The world of a certain young twelve year old is already confusing enough, but many girls quickly traded their pig tails for doc martins over a summer. It was the age to start growing up, but not growing out.

girls

Everyone is an individual. We as parents must nurture our children’s passions.

A new girl came to school. Her ensemble was definitely not a band tee shirt and jeans. She knew old jazz music over the musings of Smashing Pumpkins. She wore acid wash jeans and a jean jacket. She would make funky jewelry and put decorative pieces in her hair. She was 5’6 and a size zero. She had an angelic face and an idea for her future. She had started at a new school after moving from the city to the suburbs. In our small town, you had seen one fashionable twelve year old, you had seen them all. They were not as accepting as the barrage of city trends that exist.

She walked in being nothing but kind. Her outfit was funky and exuded her personality. The other band tee-shirted mascara smeared girls teased and ridiculed her for being different. Any adult could see that these little suburban girls were intimidated by her confidence and big city dreams. She wanted to be a model and a fashion designer. They would tell her she was not pretty enough and too ugly and skinny. Although her mother could have jumped on the bandwagon and rushed her to the mall to buy her those doc martins and a band tee shirt, she did not. Her daughter was teased. Her daughter got stronger. Her daughter went to high school and made a lot of friends. She started a fashion club and helped with annual fashion shows. She left high school and moved to New York. She became a model and a fashion designer. That skinny sized zero beauty also had a heart. She could have easily designed for sized zero models like herself, but she chose again, to go against the grain and make fashion for beautiful plus sized women. Her mom is proud.

group

The other suburban girls (not naming any names) grew up to find nice normal jobs in nice normal towns. She, however, holds no grudge and also has a beautiful family in New York City, doing what she loves for a cliental she loves.

Sometimes as parents, when our children are being teased, we quickly want our child to fit in. No parent should accept or allow their child to be bullied. However, we should encourage our children to follow their dreams, even though their peers may not believe in them. “She” is a real person, but we will choose not to use her name because there is at least one “she or even “he” in every classroom in every school across the country. “He” or “she” is probably your child. So embrace the different and don’t be afraid to stand against the grain. You have no idea what kind of super hero you might be raising.

 *If your child or someone you know is experiencing any sort of bullying, immediately contact school officials or reach out to a children’s help line. As parents, we have ZERO tolerance for bullying. You could save a life.*

About the Author & Special Guest Blogger

Grace Cross is a writer, author and owner of The Baby Spot, a global magazine celebrating the similarities and embracing the differences of parenting practices world-wide! Grace is co owner of Artist’s Opus, a social media following that promotes artists from all over the world.