Q. Some kids in our nine-year-old son's Sunday school class are teasing him about his weight. How can we help him cope with unkind comments and also slim down without harming his self-esteem?
A. I assume you're already trying your best to provide healthy food choices for your son while still allowing him the joys of being a kid, including occasional junk food and candy. I'd suggest you have a quiet talk with your child's teacher so she's aware of what's going on and can monitor the situation in a way that won't embarrass your child. Then sign your son up for a fun sport, pack healthy lunches—but stay away from "diets"—and pour the rest of your efforts into finding something at which he shines. If your son discovers he's gifted in drama, guitar, math, or any other particular area, then provide him with opportunities to excel in that area.
When I was nine, I was extremely shy and not particularly popular, but I knew that every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon I was the best one in my acting class. My husband, Steve, had terrible acne in junior high, but he was first chair in band and practiced the piano two hours daily because he liked knowing he was really good at something.
Ask God to give you insight, and then talk with your son about his interests. I believe that once your son discovers something he loves enough to pour himself into, he'll understand there's a whole lot more to him than his appearance.
Lisa Whelchel is the author of Creative Correction (Focus on the Family), "So You're Thinking About Homeschooling (Multnomah), and the founder of MomTime Get-A-Ways. She and her husband, Steve, have three children. E-mail your parenting questions for Lisa to email@example.com.
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