9 Ways to Talk to Your Child about Weight ...

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9 Ways to Talk to Your Child about Weight ...
9 Ways to Talk to Your Child about Weight ...

Finding ways to talk to your child about weight can be very difficult for many parents, because it’s not discussed openly as a parenting issue, just a health issue, and no parent wants to hurt their child’s feelings. However, it’s important that you have this conversation because of the impact of being overweight or obese on your child’s future. Here are 9 ways to talk to your child about weight.

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1

Preparing Yourself

Let’s face it – child obesity has now become such a major cause for concern and a huge problem for parents. How do we manage it without causing the child to become self-conscious, insecure or obsessive about their weight? The best way is to learn ways to talk to your child about weight, be prepared and watch out for early warning signs. You should also set a good example from the outset by eating healthily as a family and involving the whole family in active play, bike rides and walks.

2

Bringing up the Issue of Weight

Some parents don’t want to initiate discussions regarding obesity with our children, but knowing how to broach the subject without damaging the child’s self-esteem is very important. So if you’re unsure on how to handle the issue then seeking professional help or discussing with their teacher could help in ways to discuss weight with children.

3

Answering Questions about the Weight Issue

If questions are raised by your child do not avoid them, but be engaged with them. The fact a question is raised is good but work out why the question was raised. Was something hurtful said at school or something seen on TV? Listen carefully and gently answer any questions, and giving reassurance will help alleviate any anxieties. Discuss how children’s bodies differ and fluctuate during their rapid growing stages and that every child grows at a different rate.

4

Keeping It Low Key

Keeping the issue as low key as possible without making it a matter of concern will help keep the child on track to healthy eating and weight control. Help the child by gently asking if they would feel happier if they were a bit fitter and healthier. If the answer is yes, then you can offer help. Encourage your child's input in preparing more healthy family meals.

5

Don’t Be Phased

Like some children who blurt out questions regarding the birds and the bees at inopportune times, the same goes for being asked whether they are fat. Some parents may just not be prepared and fob off the child. The question will certainly not go away and will steadily brew inside him. Be ready for this question by answering gently and truthfully. Offering gentle suggestions and letting them have lots of input into the issue will help to alleviate their concerns.

6

No Joking Issue

The ways to talk to your child about weight certainly don’t include making jokes or trying to be humorous about it. It’s important not to joke with the child about their weight, even in a playful manner, as this could unintentionally affect the child leaving them with long-term anxiety. Critical words such as ‘chubby’ or ‘fatty’ should never be used, n should a child hear their parents say negative things about each other or even about themselves.

7

Learning by Mistakes

As soon as a child is concerned about their weight, parents should get them to become an ‘active learner’. This can be done by gently discussing and encouraging them to learn from their own mistakes, and reassuring and praising them for initiating weight control. This will help to teach self-confidence and self-ability.

8

‘Thinheritance’

It’s an absolute no-no for moms to become obsessive about their own weight and diets in front of their children. In studies, it has been found that very often children with eating disorders had one or both parents with obsessive food behaviour. This has led to the term ‘thinheritance’ where the child picks up obsessive weight behaviour from their parents.

9

Deflecting the Weight Issue

One of the worst ways to deal with children’s weight issues is to avoid the questions. If the parent is not quite ready to answer at that time, by deflecting the issue to a more opportune time will help steer the issue in a positive way rather than ducking the question. Gently telling the child how helpful, kind and generous they are will alleviate any immediate stress and then mention that you can chat about the question that afternoon after school, for example.

Hopefully these tips will be helpful to parents struggling to broach the issue of weight with their child. However scary it may be, it’s a vitally important conversation that needs to be had before a child’s weight spirals out of control. How would you go about talking to your child about their weight if it became a problem?

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