It can be challenging to discuss weight gain and health with kids without criticizing them for it. There aren’t many languages out there that can really help us. So, what are we to say?
My adolescent daughter is obese. Despite my concern for her wellbeing, I don’t want to undermine her self-confidence by bringing it up. What shall I do?
This query was raised recently in a parent forum about diet and body image. It was clear that the majority of the parents in the room were worried about their kids’ eating habits. Following up on this query with experts in nutrition and health made it very evident to me that there isn’t much usable terminology in this field.
There is a ton of information available for girls’ body image and self-esteem. Most of it comes down to this straightforward idea… Don’t discuss your daughter’s body with her. Discuss her abilities, demeanor, and capabilities with her. Obviously, boys face the same challenges.
We must remove the emphasis on children’s attractiveness, and that is a crucial message. What about their health, though?
Can you discuss weight with kids without lowering their self-esteem? Is it really essential to bring up weight in a health conversation?
To begin with, you must confirm that an issue actually exists. It’s critical to recognize that some weight increase during adolescence is typical.
Gain in Weight Predicted
GnRH is released to signal the beginning of puberty (gonadotropin-releasing hormone). The adolescent body receives a signal to prepare for reproduction. A girl will put on extra fat, which will mostly accumulate on her thighs, breasts, and hips. Even if a parent who has always noticed their child as lean may find this worrying, it is typical.
2. Rapid growth
Adolescence is when a substantial portion of height growth occurs, and this growth must be maintained by weight increase. Similar to babies and toddlers, the rise in weight and height doesn’t usually occur at the same time. Your tween or teen could appear heavier or very slim depending on the situation.
Things That Make You Gain Weight
1. Less Motion
Anita Skelton, the director of physical education at Santa Maria College, reports that Year 7 students’ weight has risen. She claims that a shift in behavior during lunch and recess can explain for this. During breaks in primary school, kids often play and run around. Students in high school typically sit and socialize. That translates to fewer physical activity of at least 40 minutes every day. That has to have an impact. Teenagers frequently eat while socializing, which exacerbates the effect.
2. Better Food Access
As kids get older, parents become less directive about what they should eat, and they gain greater independence in making food choices. They frequently make their own food and can make poor decisions. Teenagers have the means to purchase the meals of their choosing if they have a job of their own or receive a monthly allowance from their parents.
3. Medical Conditions May Lead to Weight Gain
Consult your doctor if you are unable to explain your child’s weight rise. Changes may be brought on by a variety of medical diseases, such as thyroid issues, diabetes, steroid use, depression, and stress.
Do You Think Negatively About Your Appearance?
Your opinions and self-perception will be a big factor in how you view your child’s body. It is inevitable that you will evaluate your child based on these standards if you are very self-conscious about your weight or appearance. Please refrain. Face your own perception of yourself first. Avoid nitpicking remarks like:
- Are you certain you require that food?
- Do you currently weigh yourself?
- You appear somewhat chubby in those jeans.
- You have my thighs.
Be aware that the media industry, which profits from scaring people into purchasing diet books and weight-loss regimens, plays a significant role in determining your opinions of what constitutes a healthy weight. Even the BMI (Body Mass Index), which does not account for muscle mass, is seen as being out of date. We are able to take a little time to unwind and resist falling for the body-beautiful mania.
How About Children’s Health?
Despite all of this, a youngster can eventually carry too much weight for their health and welfare. Consult a dietician or a physician if you’re unsure of where that point lies.
Lil Barrie, a school nurse at Santa Maria College, is also a cardiac and intensive care nurse. She argues that while it is understandable for us to be worried about children’s self-esteem, we must also keep in mind that obesity has a negative impact on one’s health, particularly if one has a family history of diabetes, heart disease, or stroke. Additionally, it has an impact on one’s self-esteem and mental health.
According to her, “We have reached the stage where we need to talk about weight as a health concern,” as 1 in 3 Australians are severely obese and 2 in 3 are overweight. The key is to speak the appropriate language.
Dietitian at Swan Centre Emily Eaton says that there must be other signs of bad health besides weight. She uses brothers with identical eating and exercise regimens but varied body sizes as an example. Although it is obvious that both children’s health has to be taken care of, we are far more likely to be concerned about the health of the child with the larger physique. “At whatever weight, there needs to be acceptance as well as care.”
How To Address Weight Gain with Children
Never bring up beauty or attractiveness while discussing weight growth with kids. It doesn’t matter. Maintain the conversation’s focus on health since you are discussing a health-related topic. Instead of concentrating on your weight, consider the advantages of nutrition and exercise. Also keep in mind that if your child has a weight problem, they probably already know about it. It is unnecessary to dredge up the subject.
Put the following examples into your own language since they may appear entirely inappropriate for you and your family. Don’t mention anything at all if your motivation is anything other than your health.
We all need to take care of our bodies and practice healthy eating habits because diabetes and heart disease run in our family. How can we all begin eating healthier?
You don’t seem to be as active as you once were, I’ve noticed. What could we do together? I want to be more active as well.
You don’t appear to be happy, and I’m worried about your health. What do you believe would make you feel better and be in better health?
“You don’t have healthy eating habits. What might we do about that? (Application to unhealthy eaters of all sizes is the same.)
“I’ve discovered that depending on how you’re feeling, you alter your eating habits. Let’s add a few healthier items to our grocery list.
The most important thing is to realize that it is never acceptable to make someone feel bad about their weight or looks. It’s inexcusable and will cause more harm than good.
According to Emily Eaton, “Parents sometimes need to accept that the best thing they can do is to create a loving environment at home where a child feels deserving of love, regardless of their size, weight, or form, and where they are not judged or discriminated against”.