Question:

Thank you for such a helpful website! I've read the article on Five to Nine Year Olds this morning.

I'm concerned about my seven year old girl who attends public school. She's naturally a tall, thin girl but she asked me if I think she's fat and lately has been obsessed about this -- showing me her stomach and asking me if it will shrink. I've had short talks with her on how we shouldn't worry about our physical appearance and how everyone is different: some are bigger than others and being big is not wrong. We should focus on how we act. I'm planning on a devotional to address this subject.

Any words of wisdom you give on this subject would be greatly appreciated. I was thrown back at how young she is asking this type of question.


Answer:

It is reflection of our society's emphasis on the physical that makes people forget that the physical is transient. "Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised" (Proverbs 31:30).

One aspect you should consider is where this source of concern is coming from. My guess is that there is a group of students at school who are taunting other children -- as children have a tendency to do. They will find anything to make another student uncomfortable and if they can't use reality, they will make something up. If this is an accurate guess, then the problem is teaching your daughter how to deal with verbal bullies.

First, get the charts for childhood growth and mark where your daughter is. See: Individual Growth Charts. What you should see is that she is taller than average, but that her weight is in a lower percentile than her height. The BMI chart should show that she is not overweight. All of these provide factual evidence. It removes the opinion of other people. That is what should be emphasized: It doesn't matter what people claim, especially children, here is what doctors say is right.

Next, we want to establish that there are people who say mean things and will be willing to tell lies just to make another person sad.

  • "Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not walk in the way of evil. Avoid it, do not travel on it; Turn away from it and pass on. For they do not sleep unless they have done evil; and their sleep is taken away unless they make someone fall. For they eat the bread of wickedness, and drink the wine of violence" (Proverbs 4:14-17).
  • "Woe to those who devise iniquity, and work out evil on their beds! At morning light they practice it, because it is in the power of their hand" (Micah 2:1).
  • "Also the schemes of the schemer are evil; he devises wicked plans to destroy the poor with lying words, even when the needy speaks justice" (Isaiah 32:7).
  • "How long, you simple ones, will you love simplicity? For scorners delight in their scorning, And fools hate knowledge" (Proverbs 1:22).

Finally, we want to talk about how to deal with such mean people. Proverbs 4:15 tells us that we should avoid such people as best we can. One thing you don't do is the same thing back to them. "Do not answer a fool according to his folly, lest you also be like him" (Proverbs 26:4). Doing so will only cause hatred to spiral out of control. "The beginning of strife is like releasing water; Therefore stop contention before a quarrel starts" (Proverbs 17:14).

She should laugh off the lies these children are telling her, knowing they are only doing it to get her mad or unhappy. If she refuses to believe them, they will get upset that their lies didn't work and eventually they will quit trying.

For you and your husband, the best thing you can do for your daughter is to find honest ways to indirectly complement her on her looks, such as "You look really good in that dress!" Every child trusts the opinions her parents over other people. Statements that affirm that you think she is just right the way she is will give her greater confidence to be content.

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer so thoroughly. I love all of the scripture, of course, and appreciate all of your suggestions. I'm confident this will help us in training our children up right!