Kids don’t have it easy whether they’re little, tweenagers or in their teens. The stresses that they experience thanks to a hectic lifestyle, school expectations and all the related anxiety that arises from the pressures they face, only add to their growing pains. And bullying can be a big issue for children.
More often than not, the kids who are picked on stand out for being too smart, different from the rest, and even for their choices being unusual, which is why kids who are on special diets tend to get bullied often. If your child is vegan—which means his/her diet is limited to non-meat, non-dairy foods—this is more likely to happen.
Teach your child how to cope with this situation in a positive and healthy way. Follow these simple tips:
- Tell your child to ignore rude comments or intimidating behavior instead of reacting to it and getting into fights. Explain that it would be a better idea to come to you, or report it to a school official.
- They need to learn how to cope with negativity even from friends, extended family members and in some cases, teachers. Tell the child that these people clearly have issues with those who make unusual food choices, but that he/she shouldn’t get affected by it because it’s about his/her life and health, after all.
- Arm them with information on how to talk intelligently and confidently to people who try to convince them that their diet choices are stupid, unhealthy or a waste of time, or who make fun of them. They could perhaps come up with a simple line that they don’t wish to harm animals, or that they prefer the taste of vegetables over that of meat or dairy products, or even that their body is unable to handle a certain kind of food.
- Do remind your child that their dietary choices have value and that they should be proud of them, despite the backlash from those who don’t agree or accept them. A bit of praise every now and then will help boost their self-esteem.
- Reassure them that there’s nothing wrong with giving in to temptation or curiosity and trying a non-vegan food or drink, but that they shouldn’t allow anyone to force them to consume something they don’t want.
Give them access to information about the benefits of a vegan diet, listed here.
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