There are many things that can create learning problems for children. Learning disabilities, medical disorders and stress can each play a role. So can obesity.
Bullying: There are a lot of things that can make a child a target for bullies. Most of us had a run in with them about something. I wore glasses and was skinny, so I got called four eyes and bean pole. The same is true of the overweight and/or obese child.
This teasing creates either a concentration on rectifying the matter or a resort to comfort foods… or both. It’s hard to concentrate on class if the mind is occupied with other activities such as avoiding bullies.
Self-esteem: The overweight child can see it in the mirror. It’s obvious when it’s time to shop for school clothes. It’s whispered on the playground. This inhibits self-esteem. Those with low self-esteem think that they will never be able to do anything right and may feel like “why bother?” when it comes to class.
Afraid to Ask: On top of the first two issues, an overweight child might be afraid to ask questions in class. They don’t want to draw more attention to themselves. Without asking questions a vital chance to learn something is missed, and it will show up on test scores.
How can we help? Schools are now cracking down hard on children who bully. There has been too many kids trying to or achieving committing suicide. If you see a child being bullied or the victim is your child, talk to the school.
Find something that the child can do well. Get them committed to following through with it. Praise them when the achieve a goal. Correct gently when they need it. Having a talent or skill can help greatly with self-esteem.
Talk to the teachers, especially in classes where grades are low. Work out ways that the child can learn what needs to be learned without drawing attention to that child. This works in other areas as well; I know because one of our children didn’t want to ask questions in class. The teacher helped me help her.
While we do want our overweight children to achieve the right weight we also need to concentrate on their education. Weight loss isn’t a fast thing and the time is ticking in school.
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