As parents, we just want whatever is best for our kids. When you notice that your child is overweight or shows other negative, diet related signs that they’re unhealthy of course you want to do something about it. Along with exercising more, you may think about putting your kiddo on a diet. But is dieting the right way to go ?
Dieting Isn’t For Children
Wellllllllll, according to ParentMap and their sources dieting may be the worst thing you could do. What prompted them to write the article is that Weight Watchers proposed a marketing campaign targeting teenagers ! A lot go times with children under age 12 we tiptoe around weight talk. The reality though is that children who are overweight get teased in school and are more likely to get full on bullied.
Start talking to your children early about how everyone has different bodies. Don’t make it a one and done conversation. Point it out often in a positive light to make it normal for them. This is soooo important because once they start taking in media and advertisement there’s really only one image deemed acceptable and if they don’t match that it can lead to major insecurity issues and low self-esteem.
Your Words Matter
You also, at an age you deem appropriate, may want to begin pointing out inequality so that they’re prepared for it and know what to expect. The younger the better because once they enter school you really have no control over what the other kids will tell them. It can be a simple statement such as “You know mom has a big belly right ? It’s not fair that there aren’t more people on tv that have bellies like me huh ?”
Talk about being active and meals outside of the scope of weight. Encourage them to eat spinach not so that they won’t be fat but because spinach is nutrient-rich and will give them the strength and energy they need to play ! Don’t tell them you want to go to the park to help them (or you) shed pounds. You just want to go because it’s a nice day out and playing is fun. These distinctions are so important so that they can maintain a healthy relationship with food and exercise.
Encourage Positive Self Talk
As a matter of fact, NEVER encourage your child to lose weight explicitly. These words may stick to them for years and cause things like eating disorders. Talking negatively about aspects of their image can cause self-esteem issues that last a lifetime and morph into things like addiction. Do realize that if your child is overweight that they’ll need extra support. If healthier options aren’t always possible just work on things like portion control. Don’t let them eat an entire bag of chips in one sitting. Don’t let them watch tv all morning on Saturday. Just implement little changes at a time. Even if your child is being bullied. Focus on stopping the bullying not telling them to lose weight. Children are relentless and weight loss often won’t stop the bullying anyway.
The goal is to raise happy, healthy children. We hope this helps !