Encountering Bullies who Target our Bodies

by Dr Kathleen Hart

At some point, someone will negatively comment on your teen’s body, whether it’s intended bullying or not, and it’s important to arm them with the skills to handle it. Dr. Kathleen Hart, a licensed psychologist specializing in the treatment of eating disorders, recommends discussing this with your child well before their teen years. “Bullying comments about bodies are like verbal arrows. If you prepare your child that one day, they will encounter someone who will shoot a verbal arrow in their direction by criticizing their body, then they will be better equipped to handle it.”

But how? Dr. Hart recommends making the clear distinction that these words are verbal attacks. “Coaching your teen to think, ‘Oh I’ve just been targeted by a bully’ rather than ‘So-and-so thinks I’m fat’ will prevent bullying comments to seep into your child’s emotional life and gradually erode their body-esteem.”