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Advice for parents

Dr. David Ludwig of Children's Hospital Boston offers the following advice to parents of overweight children.

For elementary school children

Parents shouldn't overreact to tales of teasing, but should show empathy, saying something like, "That must have felt awful."

Listen respectfully before offering suggestions.

Teach coping strategies such as focusing on positive qualities, ignoring the teaser, and imagining being protected from the teaser, perhaps by a shield that deflects the words.

For older children and adolescents

Talk to your child about children who tease, including that they often tease because they feel scared, unhappy, or bad about themselves.

Teach your child how to stay calm in the midst of teasing, perhaps by role-playing different scenarios.

Consider encouraging your child to write down hurtful things that were said and come up with a way to respond.

Encourage your child to make a joke to diffuse the tension with the teaser.

SOURCE: "Ending the Food Fight," By Dr. David Ludwig