Your child’s health is your top priority, but when it comes to weight, you have a hard time broaching the conversation. Weight is a sensitive subject, and parents are afraid of saying the wrong thing and contributing to a negative body image. However, when nearly one in five American children are obese, we can’t avoid talking about it.
A healthy weight is important for overall health, and obese children aren’t being set up for success. Childhood obesity is linked to an increased risk of asthma, diabetes, heart disease, and obstructive sleep apnea, among other health problems. Overweight children are also more likely to become overweight adults.
If you’re concerned about your child’s weight, you’re probably wondering how you can bring it up — or if you even should.
How to talk about weight with your child
How can parents bring up weight without hurting their child’s self-esteem? Use these tips to create a positive discussion about your child’s body.
Be honest, but gentle
If your child weighs more than is healthy, it’s important to speak honestly about the need for better habits. However, avoid placing blame or using negative language about their body.
Keep it age-appropriate
Kids don’t grasp the connection between diet and exercise and long-term health. They can understand, however, that eating nutritious foods and exercising give them more energy to play with friends and focus at school.
Focus on health, not looks
Avoid comments about your child’s appearance, and instead, emphasize why a good diet and healthy exercise habits are good for our bodies and minds. Talk about bodies in terms of what they can do, instead of how they look.
Don’t use the “D” word
Staying healthy is about making good choices every day, not quick-fix solutions. Discuss the importance of establishing healthy habits and why dieting fads aren’t effective, especially for kids.
Supporting your child’s healthy weight
As parents, it’s up to you to give your child the tools to adopt a healthier lifestyle. These are some ways you can support your child’s healthy choices.
Get involved in sports
Sports are a fantastic way for children to stay active, develop social and leadership skills, and make friends. While some children thrive in team sports like baseball and soccer, others prefer more individual sports. Martial arts in particular is great for kids, contributing to improved self-esteem and self-discipline in addition to being a great form of exercise. If your child has struggled to find their place in team sports, enroll in martial arts at Dragon Gym and try something different.
Set up a home gym
Children need exercise every day, but bad weather and busy schedules make it hard to find time for outdoor play. A home gym ensures your child can get active no matter what’s going on in your life. A home gym doesn’t need a lot of fancy equipment. Simply find an open space like a spare bedroom or garage. Set it up with cardio, strength training, and core training equipment. Look for kid-friendly options like plyo boxes, jump ropes, a mini trampoline, resistance bands, and an indoor climbing wall.
Stock a healthy kitchen
When soda, candy, chips, and other high-calorie foods are available at home, you can count on kids reaching for them first. Instead of keeping unhealthy snacks on hand, reserve them for special occasions, and stock your pantry with healthy options like fresh fruits, raw nuts, and fresh-cut veggies. This prevents you from becoming the food police and teaches children that certain foods are best eaten in moderation.
Lead by example
Children look to their parents for guidance. If you’re not following your own advice, your kids won’t either. Make healthy living a team effort by improving your own diet and exercise habits. Cook healthy meals as a family, get active together, and avoid talking negatively about your own body.
It’s important to discuss health matters with your children, but it’s equally important to choose your words carefully. Negative language and harsh rules often backfire and turn food and exercise into the enemy. By using these tips to make healthy living fun and empowering, you can raise healthy kids who feel good about themselves.
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