DEAR ABBY: My daughter is a tall, thin, blond-haired, blue-eyed bully. She calls other girls at school fat and ugly to the point of bringing them to tears. The mothers complain to the teacher, who calls me and her father. Today her teacher told me that a schoolmate asked my daughter for a piece of candy, and she replied, "You don't need it. You're fat enough already." The kicker, Abby -- my daughter is only 5!
I don't know where she learns these things. We have always taught our children never to call names or pick on others because they are different. She has certainly never heard things like that at home. Her older brother is a sweet, well-mannered child who has never given us a moment's trouble.
Before this, I always thought that bullies were from homes where they were neglected or abused in some way, so they took it out on other kids.
But my daughter comes from a happy, loving family, and I can't for the life of me figure out how she can be so mean-spirited at such a young age. I didn't think kids that age were even aware of their appearance, but my daughter will tell you in a heartbeat that she's "beautiful" or "skinny." Her father and I talk and punish, but it does no good.
Is she just spoiled, or is this something serious we should be worried about? -- DISTURBED MOM IN DELAWARE
DEAR MOM: If your daughter were my child, I'd be concerned for a couple of reasons. She seems never to have learned that while "pretty" is an asset, it's more important to be a nice person. Regardless of how attractive people may tell her she is -- or she thinks she is -- she has developed an extremely unattractive personality trait. And her fixation on "skinny" could lead to an eating disorder when she's older.
I am also concerned because your daughter seems unwilling or unable to learn when you correct her. A child psychologist might help you understand what's going on. If I were you, I would have her see one NOW. You need to understand why your child has no empathy for others, and why she doesn't learn from being reasoned with or punished.