As adults we find it pretty difficult to talk about weight loss with a best friend or close relative. Should you say something to encourage them to drop a few pounds, or should you say nothing? How exactly can you help, or should you even try? Now imagine this is your own child. How to help your child on the topic of weight loss is like walking a tightrope, but we have a few tips to help you keep your balance when approaching this tricky subject.
Our Body Conscious Culture
Our kids don’t live in a bubble. During a single day they are routinely online, watching TV and movies, and connecting with others on social media. They are not immune to the cultural standards of beauty and masculinity.
Figuring out the best way to approach the topic of weight loss with your child is no easy task. Some kids go along their merry way and have no issues at all, whereas others are bombarded with negative messages that can have lifelong implications.
Teasing Only Hurts
If your child is a bit on the heavy side, one of the worst things anyone can do is tease them about it. If a parent teases them thinking it will motivate them, it is similar to their peers shaming them on social media. The more teasing a young person gets, the more weight they will gain, and it will only continue into adulthood, as stated by The American Academy Of Pediatrics. In addition, this over-emphasis on their size can lead to the development of unhealthy coping mechanisms like binge eating, depression, and anxiety.
Create an Environment of Nutritious Family Dinners
If your child is a bit overweight, make an effort to eat healthy as a family. Serve nutritious foods from all the food groups, and keep these choices varied from meal to meal to help your whole family explore new foods. Of course, you can also include some sweets and sweet drinks, but always in moderation.
Everyone should eat the same foods in the same amounts, and avoid “diet” as a word and a fact. No one should be singled out with less dessert or forced to eat more veggies. Serving nutritious meals at home is a way to battle the culture, and in addition, help your child on the topic of weight loss without actually discussing it. Sometimes silence can be golden.
Promote a Positive Body Image in All Your Children
Easy to say, right? It can be done if parents stay focused on the prize: health, not weight.
This can be facilitated in some of the following ways:
- Encourage your kids to engage in physical activities, perhaps by playing sports at school, and make a point of giving them more attention to what is on the inside instead of the outside.
- Refrain from telling your children that a particular outfit makes them look thin or fat.
- Praise them when they eat a healthy breakfast or try some new sports at school.
- Never let them hear you talk about your body consciousness in a negative way.
- Engage in some physical activities with them, like biking or playing basketball.
Keep an Open Ear
If you hear your child say something derogatory about themselves in relation to their size, ask them why they feel this way. Telling you that they feel fat and/or ugly is a prime example. Listen up and ask lots of questions to encourage them to talk about their feelings. Why? Who said something? What was it? You may not be able to solve the issue right then and there, but you can certainly give them lots of love and reassurance to ease some of the anxiety.
Afterwards, try to gently confront the source to your child’s feelings if you can.
Consider Your Own Attitudes
You might have laughed at jokes about overweight co-workers or during sitcoms on TV. Kids are always listening whether we truly realize it or not.
Think through how you can model a positive attitude about size and weight. Correct your children or their friends if you should overhear them laughing at another due to weight or inability to play sports. They will learn to be their best when you are your best.
Seek Help If You Have Concerns
Let’s not gloss over the fact that childhood obesity has tripled in the last several decades and remains a serious problem in the United States. If you have concerns about your child’s health, talk to your pediatrician about what is the best course of action. Talk to your pediatrician or connect with a counseling service to help your child live a healthy life and feel good about themselves.