Expert Parent Advice

Talking to Kids About Weight

According to the American Heart Association, 1/3 of U.S. kids and teens are considered overweight or obese.  It’s a major problem, but it’s one parents don’t feel comfortable addressing. 

I’m Amy McCready with Positive Parenting Solutions, and I’m proud to partner with Kids ‘R’ Kids for the Expert Parenting Advice Series.  Today we’re talking about the do’s and don’ts for talking to kids about weight:

A study by WebMD Fit found that 22% parents are uncomfortable discussing the issue of weight with their kids – even more uncomfortable than discussing sex and drugs.

First, the DON’Ts:

  • Don’t use the words “over-weight” or “diet.” 
  • Don’t single out the child who needs to lose weight.
  • Don’t nag about portion size or ban foods.  That will only make the child defensive and may lead to sneaking food.
  • Don’t refer to yourself as fat or overweight – when you judge yourself, you are subtly judging others as well.

Let’s talk about what you CAN DO to be most helpful to your child:

  • Have ongoing discussions about being healthy with the whole family (not just the child who is overweight).  Discuss the importance of keeping our bodies healthy with food and exercise.
  • Make it a FAMILY AFFAIR. Make simple changes as a family for better health and nutrition.  Get the kids involved in deciding what changes to make.  You can start small with:
    • Have sweets only on weekends.
    • Have a vegetable with every meal.
    • Go outside and be active every day for 30 minutes.
    • Eat fast food no more than once a week.
    • Start with one thing that you can all agree on –then you can slowly add others down the road.
  • Control the Environment– Help your kids feel empowered by letting them choose their own snacks – but control the options.  If you don’t want them to have cookies, crackers or soda, don’t buy them.  Keeping the no-no’s out of the house (controlling the environment) is better than having to constantly say “no” or having food turn into a power struggle.  Control the environment by stocking the fridge with cut-up veggies, fruit, yogurt, cheese – any healthy snacks that you feel comfortable with them eating, and let them help themselves.

For more solutions to help your kids and your whole family be as healthy as possible, check the interactive that goes along with this video.

For ongoing solutions to your parenting challenges, visit us often at Kids 'R' Kids for Expert Parenting Advice.

I’m Amy McCready for Kids ‘R’ Kids, and I’ll see you next time!