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Childhood Obesity: Start Talking, Stop Blaming and Make Changes

Family Therapist, Joe Rich, offers advice on how to talke to childern about weight issues

JoeRich.ca

Don’t get busy with the blame game:

  • Blame school – no exercise and foods not healthy in programs, lunches, etc.
  • Day care and food served not healthy enough
  • Parents – not exercising enough in the family
  • Society – too much screen time, kids not safe on the streets, fast foods, etc.

Viewing each of the above as the problem (who and what to blame) limits us from the solution - considering each of these is also the solution!

Start talking about healthy weight at birth and be hopeful that it isn’t in context of over weight - just to be healthy!  Try to keep the focus about:

  • healthy eating
  • good choices
  • balance in our lives
  • building the outside and the inside
  • importance of exercise in the equation
  • the need for treats for fun in life!

Stop talking about this issue with your friends, spouse, etc.  Children do not need to hear about this first hand or second hand (listening) and all the talk has negative effect on self esteem when real issue is building self-esteem in all children.

Make sure you know how your child “sees themselves” if there is a struggle with weight and weight gain – this is an issue for boys and girls – boys may see them self in positive terms (wrestler, strong, etc.)

Anticipate periods of weight gain (ie, girls in adolescence) and do not comment on this.

Find out ways to shop for and dress your child appropriately. There are loads of resources and online shopping for all sizes – be cautious about this for both boys and girls

Be the change you want to be in your family!  We are all eating healthy, we are all exercising, we are all going skating; make it about us and not the child and this will do wonders for self esteem. 

Don’t comment on food intake or choices in public – this causes shame.

Consider other issues that may be at play that can be masked by obesity (health issues) and eating habits – is there actually something else wrong and I am too focused on weight to see this?

Encourage the family to identify strengths beyond physical appearance and to talk about them - you are a good reader, you are so helpful, you are funny, etc. to stop the focus being solely on “appearances” and allow for focus on weight as a health issue.

Keep in mind the broader context of school, etc. where your child may be “made fun of or preparing them for life in a world where not too long ago parents said things like “no one likes a fat bride”  and how we can prepare them for this

Food ads are here to stay and a great way to add teachable moments - "Wow, they make that sound fantastic and I can see how kids would want to have it. Let's have a look at it next time we are at the supermarket and see just what is in there!"

 

 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Health & Fitness

Childhood Obesity Q & A