Teaching and Dealing with the Word “Fat”

4/26/23: Teaching a child how to deal being called fat is just as important as teaching a child that it is rude and inappropriate to call people fat in front of them.

I do not teach my children to be offended by the word “fat”. I refer my own belly as fat. My four-years-old little man teases me of having a fat belly. I am fine with it. If I have a fat belly, then I have a fat belly. If my belly is “fatter” than his little belly, that’s just a visual comparison. When my som explained to me that he was telling his friend that her belly is fatter than his belly. I knew he was just trying to make a naive concrete comparison. I know he would never mean to hurt anyone’s feelings on purpose.

The incident with my 4-years-old little man comparing his friend’s belly as fatter than his belly which upset his little friend and made her dad so concerned was a teaching moment for me to teach my son that it is inappropriate and rude to refer people they are fat in any way in front of them, but at the same time we parents still need to teach our kids to not let such describing words effect their mentality and self esteem and know how to respond in situations when someone calls them that while we are not around or intentionally say it to bring their self esteem down.

The grownups that hangs out with too many grownups may find the word “fat” to be a negative describing word in society, but this is how I view the word “fat” from a mommy and a teacher point-of-view who deals with 5 to 7-years-olds with plenty of training on bullying:

“Fat” is not a bad word.
Fat is a phonetic word.
Fat is a describing word.
Fat is an -at word family taught during Word Study
Fat is the opposite word of skinny.
If fat and skinny are bad words, it wouldn’t be taught in Kindergarten.

So if someone calls my daughter fat/skinny and she comes home telling me about it, I will tell her she will always be skinnier than someone and fatter than someone in this world. It’s just a describing word like tall and short, young and old. She shouldn’t let someone’s describing words effect her self image since she is beautiful just the way she is.

I deal with situations with students coming to tattle tale about “calling each other fat”he/she called me fat” or the “he/she keeps starring/looking at me” or the “that kid from (an older grade) called me a shortie” on a daily or weekly basis. My colleagues and I only took it as a teaching moment to teach and remind the students how to respond or react when such comments are made since it occurs on a daily or weekly basis even after we explained it’s not an appropriate thing to say. I would tell the students to ignore the person, walk away from whoever saying they are fat, or simply respond back “so what”. And as for the staring problem, o would advise to stare them back which ends up to become a staring game to see which peer can have keep their eyes opened longer than the other.

So the next time someone tells your child he/she is fat, turn it into a teaching moment. Instead of getting upset with the kid that calls your child fat, teach your child how to deal and respond to situations like this is just as important.

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