Most children get their first taste of social interaction in school. It is there that they begin to develop an understanding of how friends are made and kept. However, not all kids will find themselves fitting in. Children who are classified as obese, in particular, will soon discover some kids are not as friendly as they first appear to be. Sadly, this early rejection, according to a study by researchers at the University of Adelaide, can only pose more problems for the children later on in life.

To back the study up, the researchers observed 3,300 children and followed the course of their social development for more than four years. Aside from checking for the kids' emotional and mental health through the years, height and weight were also measured regularly.

Out of the group, 17.1 percent of the boys and 21.2 percent of the girls had been classified as obese, and by the time the children reached age eight or nine, their parents were 15 percent more likely to say that they were loners, while their teachers were 20 percent more likely to say that they had emotional problems.

As parents, you’re probably wondering how your children can be influenced by their relationship with their peers at such an early age. Aren’t they too young to even be thinking about social acceptance? However, the lead researcher, Professor Michael Sawyer, thinks otherwise. "The quality of peer relationships during this period of time has the potential to have a significant impact on children's later mental health," he says.


Based on the results of the study, children who find themselves having a hard time making friends at a young age might shy away from more social interactions in the future. They might choose to avoid joining clubs or participating in group activities because of the stigma they had suffered when they first started school.

Young as they are, today’s children are still growing up rather quickly. As parents, you can either do your best to protect them or do your best to help them face their fears. Either way, you must not forget to let them know how much you love them and, hopefully, that will be enough to guide them towards a better and brighter future.

For more on raising healthy kids, check out these articles:

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