Article at a Glance
• Parents often avoid addressing a weight problem with their child because they worry about causing an eating disorder, damaging their child’s self-esteem, or appearing hypocritical.
• Parents can avoid these problems by setting goals to improve the health of the entire family instead of focusing on one individual.
Even though childhood obesity has become a national health problem—over tripling in the past 30 years—many parents struggle with how to talk to their children about it. A recent study found that parents were more hesitant to talk to their children about a weight problem than about drugs, alcohol, or sex.
Some of the biggest fears were of causing an eating disorder, damaging their child’s self-esteem, or appearing hypocritical. However, parents can avoid these problems by addressing the overall health of the family instead of focusing on one individual.
Rather than telling your child he is overweight and has to go on a diet, sit down as a family and talk about ways that the whole family can adopt a healthier lifestyle. Agree on some goals, decide on some kind of reward, and then be there to support each other. By making your children part of the process, they will feel more invested and won’t feel as picked on. They will also learn valuable ways to make healthier decisions later in life.
Tips on Setting Goals:
• Your goals should be things that younger children can understand. For example, the goal of only drinking two sodas a week is much easier for a child to grasp than the goal of losing five pounds.
• Don’t just address food and exercise. Things like getting enough sleep and learning how to deal with stress can help you lose weight.
• Avoid being negative towards yourself or others in the family. Don’t criticize or belittle. Focus instead on the positive things you can do to improve the family’s health.
For more ideas on how to improve the health of your family, visit fit.webmd.com.