Weight problems in children are a common parenting concern. Weight loss principles are similar for kids and adults. Extreme fad diets tend not to work very well. Common sense, healthy meal plans generally work better. One of the best ways to help an overweight kid is to focus on his emotional health, as much as physical. Here are tips for parents to help overweight kids be emotionally healthy.
* Don't panic. Some kids go through a period where they are chubby. It's common for tweens in preadolescence to gain weight, especially in the abdomen. T his is particularly true for families in which one or both parents were pudgy as children. In a healthy, active child, belly fat begins to drop off by around age 12 to 14 as they hit their height growth spurts.
* Feed them well. If your child is going through a fat stage, worrying about it isn't going to help you or the child. What will help is providing regular, nutritious meals and snacks. Keeping a child well-fed helps prevent binge eating. Like adults, kids tend to overeat and eat too quickly if they are hungry.
* Don't nag. Chubby kids know they are overweight. They don't need to be reminded of this. Doing so is hurtful and can cause them to seek comfort in food. Encourage, assist and applaud progress.
* Never shame a child. If a child is overweight or even obese, humiliation is the last thing he needs. I struggled with weight as a child. I remember feeling like I was only acceptable if and when I lost weight. Overweight kids needs extra love and affirmation. They need positive, proactive help to manage eating. They needs to know that they are loved he is no matter what the scale says.
* Don't compare children. Kids should not be measured against each other, even if they are in the same family. Every kid has his own DNA, metabolic rate and health package. It's cruel to point out contrasts between kids in a negative way.
* Don't micromanage. Teach a child about nutrition, healthy eating, calorie counting and portion control, but do not second guess him. Show him how to use a food and fitness journal (WebMD has a useful program). Make yourself available to help if requested. Then trust him to do it. Ultimately, only the child himself has control over what he eats and how much he exercises. If you show that you trust him, he'll be more likely to rise to the occasion.
* Make fitness a fun family priority. Nobody wants exercise alone, no matter what great sports equipment you provide. Go for family bike rides and walks. Go swimming or visit a playground. Play badminton or yard games. This is great for emotional as well as physical family health.
Teaching positive emotional wellness tools is the best way to build healthy physical bodies.