To tackle the problem of childhood obesity, it is imperative that it starts in the home. Children will learn the majority of their eating patterns and exercise habits while they are young and living at home. However, talking with one’s child about weight and food can be a very sensitive subject and one that needs to be approached carefully. Many children that are overweight can suffer from low self-esteem and further emotional damage can occur if the subject isn’t handled gently. Here are a few tips when approaching a child about losing weight:
- First, it is imperative that the child understands they are loved no matter their size or shape!
- Help them understand that losing weight is much more about being physically healthy than looking a certain way or fitting into a specific size of clothing. Stress the importance of being healthy and less on what they look like. Focus on losing weight through proper nutrition and exercise, reminding them that this will help them to lead a healthy and active life.
- Let them know they are not alone. In order for a child to lose weight, it will need to be a family affair. Explain to them that the entire family will be changing their eating habits and increasing their physical activity.
- Help your child meet their healthy lifestyle choices by removing soda and junk food from the home. Replace those foods with fruits, vegetables and grains. Not only will this minimize temptation for your child, it removes the burden from the parent to have to play “bad cop” with food in the home. If a parent repeatedly has to tell their child, “You can’t have that” or “Stop eating that!” it can not only hurt a child’s self esteem but damage a parent/child relationship.
- Be an example for your child. In order to help your child begin a healthy lifestyle, they will need you to lead the way. This can be done by showing them what healthy food choices are. If one isn’t sure themselves of what good food choices are, there are several examples that can be found here: www.letsmove.gov. Another good idea is to meet with a dietician together. A dietician is a trained professional that will help get the entire family started on the path to a healthier lifestyle.
- Make physical activity fun and something the entire family can be involved in. Some ideas include; family walk after dinner, playing tag in the backyard, swimming, and hiking. If the entire family is involved in the activity, it will not only be more enjoyable, but will help build strong relationships within the family.
- Let your child help you plan and prepare meals. Not only will this help the child learn how to choose and prepare healthy foods, it will help build their self-esteem as they learn to do something newbut will also give the opportunity for quality time between parent and child.
Childhood obesity is a real and seriousproblem, but the good news is that it can be reversed and it begins in the home! With a few positive changes, our childrencan begin to live a healthy, happier and longer life!
Bio: Irish Carter is a Wellness Specialist and owner of Dedicated 2 Life. Her mission is to help others Rock Wellness and be the best they can be in both their personal and professional lives. Besides being a Coach in Personal and Professional Development, she is a proud mom, a serial entrepreneur, author of 2 books and several publications, as well as a motivational speaker. Irish has over twenty years' experience assisting in Wellness and Development topics and holds degrees in both Social Work and Human Services. She is available for private consulting and public speaking events worldwide.