9 year old SD learned the "D-Word" — The Bump
School-Aged Children

9 year old SD learned the "D-Word"

Diet.

In our home there is a big focus on healthy eating and staying active, and both our children are very active, and make good food choices independently.

However, lately SD has been complaining that she needs to go on a diet. I'm not sure where the idea is coming from, I have asked her why she thinks she needs to diet, and she replied "I'm getting fat. Look at my arms!" (As she pinched imaginary arm flab).

This just completely shocked me. She is a very slender girl. How she can perceive herself as fat I just don't know. I told her (long story short) she doesn't need to diet, she's a very healthy 9 year old girl who has established good eating habits and gets plenty of exercise, and that's what's important - being healthy.

Does this sound like a peer pressure thing, or should I be concerned about eating disorders forming? This is my first foray into body image issues with SD and I'm entirely not sure how to handle it.

 

 

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Re: 9 year old SD learned the "D-Word"

  • ppantsppants member
    My DD is only 6, but I think you handled it correctly. I'd keep an eye on any change in eating or exercise habits. I assume you don't speak ill of your body? I'd also focus on the great things she can do with her body and it's the only one she'll ever have so she should appreciate it for what makes her her.
    Wendy Twins 1/27/06. DS and DD
  • imagemrs_sexy:
    My DD is only 6, but I think you handled it correctly. I'd keep an eye on any change in eating or exercise habits. I assume you don't speak ill of your body? I'd also focus on the great things she can do with her body and it's the only one she'll ever have so she should appreciate it for what makes her her.

    Oh no, not at all. That's why I was so caught off guard. I've never put myself down in front of the kids in any way. She does have an older sister who doesn't live with us, who used to be a cheerleader, and we had suspicions that she was binging/purging when she was competing, so it has occurred to me that MAYBE she talks about weight/dieting in front of SD on their visits.

    I will definitely be monitoring her eating/exercise more closely from now on. I know that SD wants to get back into gymnastics next month, so perhaps I'll try and redirect her attention to some positive role models in that area and hopefully that will help her accept herself and be proud of who she is.

    I just can't get over hearing her call herself fat. That's her in my sig... Obviously not overweight. When I was her age my weight was the last thing on my mind. I was too preoccupied with playing cowboys and indians and dressing up my barbies. I guess the times have changed, and that makes me sad.

     

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  • My daughter is 9 y.o. and I think this is normal because my daughter critiques herself too.  Also some of the boys at school were calling some of the girl's fat when they certainly weren't fat al all, so it could be peer pressure too.

    Does she go to yearly well-visits?  Maybe if she heard the doctor say she is exactly where she should be for weight and that it's important to eat right and exercise she will take it more to heart then if a family member says it.  This would also be an opportunity for her to talk to the doctor regarding why she thinks she is fat.

  • I would be mildly concerned about this statement, but I would respond as you did. It's possible that she's holding her arm up in the "make a muscle" position and confusing the relaxed muscles on the underside of her arm for "fat."  My DD (who is stick skinny, BTW) had a similar misconception.

    She could have heard this on TV, from a friend's older sister, in song lyrics, in a book, or practically anywhere.  It's possible that in two days she'll have moved on ot something else.  OR... this is a hint that she's prone to concerns about her body image.

    I'd keep my eyes and ears open, but my mouth shut for a little while.  When appropriate, I'd drop some comments that are positive about her appearance but that don't involve weight at all. 

    High School English teacher and mom of 2 kids:

    DD, born 9/06/00 -- 12th grade
    DS, born 8/25/04 -- 7th grade
  • imagelittlemermaid:

    My daughter is 9 y.o. and I think this is normal because my daughter critiques herself too.  Also some of the boys at school were calling some of the girl's fat when they certainly weren't fat al all, so it could be peer pressure too.

    Does she go to yearly well-visits?  Maybe if she heard the doctor say she is exactly where she should be for weight and that it's important to eat right and exercise she will take it more to heart then if a family member says it.  This would also be an opportunity for her to talk to the doctor regarding why she thinks she is fat.

    Yes, she does. Unfortunately though, SD is a bottle it up type. She'll eventually come to me, but it takes a while, and I don't want to nag at her because I'm afraid of losing the trust we have. Maybe I could mention something to the doctor prior to the visit so that he can bring up healthy eating/exercise habits and whatnot. I sincerely hope that she hasn't heard any kids calling others fat... Kids can be so cruel, it's alarming.

    Neverblushed, thank you for your input as well. Since she made the comment I've noticed no change in her behaviour, so I think I'm just going to leave the subject alone for now unless anything changes. We do compliment both our kids frequently and will be sure to keep that up.  

     

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  • I agree that getting the "you're right where you should be" from the doctor at her yearly checkup would carry a lot of weight with a 9 y/o.

     

    High School English teacher and mom of 2 kids:

    DD, born 9/06/00 -- 12th grade
    DS, born 8/25/04 -- 7th grade
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