Go ahead and talk with your child about weight. Allow her to tell you about feelings that she may not have talked about before. She may be teased at school. Maybe she doesn’t do well in sports. Maybe she is usually chosen last for teams. Or maybe she is embarrassed because she has trouble fitting into her clothes. These frustrating and painful issues are common among overweight children.
If your child shares his feelings with you, listen to him. Let him know that his feelings are real, frustrating and painful. If you have had similar experiences, it may help to share them.
Encourage your child to share his feelings whenever they arise. Let him know that you will listen when he needs to talk.
Explain that people come in all different sizes and shapes. Reassure him that you will accept him and love him no matter what his size.
Your child probably knows better than anyone else that she is overweight. Overweight children need support, acceptance, reassurance and encouragement from their parents.
Let your child know that you will not be putting him on a strict diet. That kind of diet can send the message to your child that you’re not happy with his size. It may make him think that he will be more acceptable to you when he is thinner. Your child may see this as rejection.
Children learn fast, and they learn best by example. Teach your child habits that will help keep her healthy for the rest of her life.
Set Realistic Goals
Remember that the main goal for your overweight child may be to slow the rate of her weight gain. Or the goal may be for your child to stay at her current weight while she grows taller. Such goals help your child to grow into her weight.
It may take six months to reach a goal. Or it may take longer. The amount of time will depend on your child’s weight and when her growth spurts take place.
- Realize that change occurs slowly. Be patient. It can be hard to change eating habits. Aim for what is possible, not what you think is perfect.
- Change menus slowly. Try one new dish or type of food at a time. If your family is used to fast food, they may not be ready for a menu of chicken breast and baked potatoes or broiled fish and carrots.
- Set yourself up for success. Choose a few specific changes that you can make in your family’s eating habits. Then set realistic goals.