Mom Struggles With 'Appropriate Punishments' When Her Kindergartener Maliciously Calls His Teacher Fat

We should be celebrating the diversity in body types, not using it as a way to tear others down.

Plus size teacher, kindergartener learning all bodies are good bodies Odua Images, Nicolas Menijes | Canva

Kids say the darndest things, and usually it's adorably insightful and sometimes even hilariously embarrassing. But what happens when your little one isn't just gabbing without a filter? What happens if their words are actually hurtful? 

That's the exact dilemma that had one mom turning to Reddit for advice.

A mom was notified by her son's kindergarten teacher that he had "maliciously" called her fat.

“He didn’t say it in that ‘matter-of-fact’ way kids sometimes do but he said it maliciously. I’m so embarrassed,” she wrote in a Reddit post. “His dad and I are both overweight and we have never once used fat as an insult.”


Unsure of how to structure a punishment, the distraught mom turned to the online parenting community for support.

“I struggle with appropriate punishments because I didn’t grow up with great examples of that so I am begging for advice on how to handle this,” she wrote.

Photo: Reddit


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The comments pushed her to search for a way to turn the incident into a teachable moment, and their advice was sound.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) encourages parents to move away from punishing children and instead employ discipline strategies. Discipline is all about teaching children how to have control over their emotions and actions.

In this case, her son may not understand how his words could hurt another person — especially if the underlying reason for the insult involved his own pent-up feelings of frustration. At just five or six years old, he's still learning how to effectively communicate with other people.

Instead of punishing him, comments called for teaching him not to comment on others’ bodies.

This could be the perfect opportunity for this mom to teach her son a lesson in celebrating everyone’s differences, keeping comments to yourself, and communicating effectively when you’re in a bad mood.

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Since her son hadn’t called his teacher fat in a “matter-of-fact” way, he likely did it because he had been taught to use it as an insult. In order to dismantle that teaching, it’s important to look at why he felt the need to lash out in the first place. According to “You are Mom,” sometimes kids feel so much anger inside of them that they are compelled to let it out by hurting others. 

In an interview with, child and adolescent psychologist, Lori Fishman Psy.D., suggested that parents should try to teach their kids that it’s not polite or kind to comment on other people’s bodies. When they notice the differences in someone’s body, they should make note of it instead of saying anything out loud. “You can then talk about it privately at home if there are questions, and explain further that everybody's body is different — different colors, different shapes, different sizes, different abilities,” she explained.

Everyone’s bodies are different, and celebrating that diversity is part of being human. After being inundated with support and advice, the mom updated the Reddit community on her plans for an age-appropriate conversation with her son to dig deeper into the incident.


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Isaac Serna-Diez is an Assistant Editor for YourTango who focuses on entertainment and news, social justice, and politics.