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Q: My fourth-grade son is a slow learner, wears glasses, and has trouble making friends. Some of the boys make fun of him because of the glasses, or because he's not smart, does work slower, or is not good at sports. He said that no one will play with him at recess and that he has to play alone.
He's a little big for his age, and now he is eating just to fill up his free time. He gets so upset when the kids make fun of him and tells the teacher he's sick and wants to come home. What can I do?
A: First, talk with the teacher and explain what is happening with your son. Ask the teacher to help address the teasing. She can also encourage some of the other children to play with your son and to talk with him during free time.
Also talk with the school counselor. The counselor and your son's teacher can plan some activities for the entire class on understanding differences and on being kind to others. The counselor may also be able to give your son some individual time or include him in a small group.
Try sending a healthy snack such as carrot sticks that your son can eat during free time so that he doesn't have to eat part of his lunch then. You can even send enough for your son to share with other children at free time; this may encourage the children to talk with each other while they enjoy the snack.
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Barbara Potts has worked as an elementary school counselor for many years. She has a BA in psychology from Wake Forest University, and an M.Ed. in Guidance and Counseling from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.