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Question
Posted by: Jolene | 2011/06/13

5 year old thinks she is fat- Very worried Mother

My 5 year old is very self conscious about her weight.
For about 2 years (3-5) she had a child in her class that kept telling her she is fat and ugly. This affected her alot as she would sometimes not want to eat her food as she was affraid it would make her fat and even said that the girl told her to stick her finger in her mouth to get thin. She even stood in front of the mirror and pull her tummy in and tell me that is what she wants to look like. We make a point of telling her she looks pretty and looks nice ect.
The little girll in her class has now left the school for the last 3 months and things have been much better, or so I thought. On Friday when stopping to pick some food up I told her that she must taste what I had bought as it was something new to her. I told her that it is healthy food and we eat healthy food to look after our bodies and to not get sick and that is why she must at least taste and let me know if she likes it.
Before we even got to the tasting she started to cry and she told my husband and I that she dreams to be thin and that her tummy is fat.
she is not at all over weight and is a normal built little girl, she is also not surrounded by people who keep talking about loosing weight or that they are fat either
What can I do to help my little girl from developing a serious eating disorder?

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageEating Disorders Expert

Hello Jolene,
Yes, it is tragic that your daughter has developed such a fear at her young, innocent age. It is extremely rare for a 5-year-old to develop a traditional eating disorder, but in your daughter's case, it seems quite plausible that the teasing she experienced from a peer has had a profound impact on her. I would say that her eating problems should be treated more within the ambit of treating a phobia. Given her age, I would suggest that you seek the professional help of a child psychologist, where the therapeutic treatment will use non-verbal methods to seek a way in which your daughter can feel safer both within herself, and in her relationship with food. The child psychologist would also be able to advise whether a dietician would be appropriate at this point. It might only be necessary for you to persist with encouraging your daughter to just eat sensibly and moderately, which includes eating some treats. Let me know where you live, and I might be able to recommend a child psychologist to you?
Regards,
Graham

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

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Our users say:
Posted by: be | 2011/08/24

gosh isn''t it sad how some kids are so mean!!! i hope your little girl gets the help she needs to live normally and not obsess about her appearance all day long.. (and may the horrible child who did this to her get fat 1 day!!!) x

Reply to be
Posted by: Jolene | 2011/06/14

We stay in Benoni-please could you recommend someone

Reply to Jolene
Posted by: Kasandra | 2011/06/14

Please post your message to cybershrink, his very helpful and replies quickly as I think you need some advice as soon as possible.

Reply to Kasandra
Posted by: Eating Disorders and Obesity Expert | 2011/06/14

Hello Jolene,
Yes, it is tragic that your daughter has developed such a fear at her young, innocent age. It is extremely rare for a 5-year-old to develop a traditional eating disorder, but in your daughter's case, it seems quite plausible that the teasing she experienced from a peer has had a profound impact on her. I would say that her eating problems should be treated more within the ambit of treating a phobia. Given her age, I would suggest that you seek the professional help of a child psychologist, where the therapeutic treatment will use non-verbal methods to seek a way in which your daughter can feel safer both within herself, and in her relationship with food. The child psychologist would also be able to advise whether a dietician would be appropriate at this point. It might only be necessary for you to persist with encouraging your daughter to just eat sensibly and moderately, which includes eating some treats. Let me know where you live, and I might be able to recommend a child psychologist to you?
Regards,
Graham

Reply to Eating Disorders and Obesity Expert
Posted by: also worried | 2011/06/13

I am very heart broken reading your post. Yes, your beloved daughter needs help desperately. Children can be very mean. She is still a baby and for her to be worried about her weight is frightening. You will get good advice here. All the best.

Reply to also worried

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