This article is also available in Italian.
I am here to deepen the article “The risks of child obesity“.
I want to tell you, in short, the story of a boy of eleven years of age, reported by pediatrician Mel Levine in his book “The Myth of Laziness“.
This is a very intelligent child, is better than its peers in reading and science, he speak perfectly and his mind was bubbling of ideas. But he hated writing, seemed to use every resource in composing the letters, and no energy was left for the punctuation and everything else. The end result was a very difficult handwriting to read not only for an adult but also for himself.
Moreover, even for his overweight, he was constantly mocked by his classmates. He did not show his discomfort, but in the long run, the situation became untenable, the boy began to feel depressed, so as to threaten suicide. It was on that occasion that the parents decided to treat him.
During an interview with the doctor of the school, because he did not want to do gymnastics, he confessed what follows:
I am ashamed. Everyone makes fun of me because I’m fat, and why can not I take and throw the ball well as they do. And then I can not to run: I go slowly, I look like an idiot. Any game we do, I’m wrong, and they tell me everything.
The constant humiliation suffered by the child joined the many nicknames that the other children assigned to him (such as fatty, lard ball, etc.), had seriously undermined his self-esteem.
To this was added the criticism of teachers and parents who see him as lazy. It’s understandable as he wanted a life that did not put to test his poor physical abilities, he choosing a sedentary lifestyle.
His parents were athletic, funny, performed, and the boy, of course, admired them and wanted to live up to their expectations, but unfortunately he had the feeling that he represented to them a disappointment. They wanted an athletic son to play tennis, but instead had a son who seems lazy.
Furthermore, we must not forget that 11 years is an age sensitive, we enter adolescence, the appearances are particularly important, and peers are often mercilessly. The choice of this kid, to avoid public humiliation, was to be alone or with adults, living as marginalized.
It seems to me that the picture is complete. It is clear that he feels differently from his peers. In this case, at his weight problem is compounded by the problem with the motor memory that hinders him in writing, and muscle coordination that limits him in his sports ability.
How to help a child in this situation.
It is essential to restore his self-esteem, above all, by highlighting his qualities (in this case the reading, learning science and mathematics, drawing, etc …) and explaining what he can do, as an adult, with these qualities.
Surely, he will be surprised by this because his virtues not perceive them as such, but understates, happens to all children with impaired performance.
We have to explain to him what are his problems, making him understand that he is not stupid, nor delayed.
Regarding the weight, he should lose weight, and just reached the age of puberty, he would be like all the other boys.
At school, the gym teacher will not make him do exercises that make him look ridiculous with his schoolmates, helping him gain physical strength (body building is a good alternative, but also shot put, and wrestling) . Having success in any sport, he feels, of course, admired and rewarded.
To help him in writing he was advised by the pediatrician to use the computer keyboard, why deploy the motor patterns with the keyboard, it is easier than with a pen. Furthermore he was advised at school to write only in capital letters and copy lists of words every night before bedtime, because that is done immediately before bedtime, is imprinted in the night.
If he wants to try with the music, there are many tools, but those best suited for one who has trouble writing, and therefore has trouble remembering motor sequences, are the drums, trombone and double-bass, all instruments requiring the use of large muscles of the arms which are easier to control.
If the boy has a passion for something, we try to help them to cultivate this passion by buying magazines, books, and collaborating with teachers, he surprised and impress everyone, especially classmates.
No less important is the role of parent. Learning to praise your child for what he can do, without putting pressure on him to become an athlete or whatever, you get a great result.