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Helping Your Child » Tips to Help Your Child Lose Weight and Develop Healthy Lifestyle Habits

Tips to Help Your Child Lose Weight and Develop Healthy Lifestyle Habits

by | Feb 28, 2021

Tips to Help Your Child Lose Weight and Develop Healthy Lifestyle Habits

It can be a tricky subject when you realize you need to help your child lose weight. You don’t want to hurt your child’s feelings, but you want them to be healthy and happy. With younger children, you can often instate positive changes without directly addressing the matter. But as kids get older, and especially once they become teens, you can’t simply make dietary and lifestyle changes for them without them noticing or understanding.

Of course, it can also be difficult to recognize that your own child is overweight, or even obese. Parents often don’t see it—sometimes in part because they don’t want to, and also just because they get accustomed to their kids’ appearance. Also, it takes a lot fewer pounds to push a kid over into unhealthy territory than it does for a full-grown adult. And, as we have increasing numbers of overweight and obese children in this country, our perception of what a “normal” kid looks like changes over time. It’s important to pay attention if your pediatrician, a family member, or someone else expresses concern about your child’s weight.

Being overweight in childhood is physically unhealthy, just as it is in adulthood. It also makes kids more likely to be bullied, to develop low self-esteem, to struggle in school, to shy away from play and extracurricular activities, to become depressed, and to have other mental, emotional, and social problems. You’re also instilling lifestyle habits in your child than can last a lifetime, so you want them to be positive ones.

As you can see, it’s important to help your child lose weight if he or she needs to for so many reasons. Here’s some advice for turning things around if your son or daughter has extra pounds to shed.

Ways to Help Your Child Lose Weight and Stay Healthy

  • Frame the conversation around being healthy, as opposed to weight and appearance.
  • Don’t talk to a kid about dieting, or put your child on a diet. Instead, focus on positive lifestyle habits and changes. This is a healthy approach to weight loss, and lasting lifestyle changes are the key to maintaining a healthy weight and habits for the long term. Dieting typically just results in yo-yo weight loss and gain.
  • Be a good role model. Eat healthy foods and sensible portions. Take your time eating. Exercise regularly. Kids learn so much by watching their parents.
  • Serve your child kid-sized portions of food. Serve healthy foods. Let younger kids help pick out and prepare healthy foods to make them more amenable to eating them.
  • Encourage your child to eat slowly and to stop when they no longer feel hungry. Don’t push your child to finish everything on the plate if they don’t want it. Also, don’t praise young kids just for finishing their food.
  • Don’t let kids watch TV, play on their phone or tablet, or otherwise be distracted while eating. This leads to mindless overeating.
  • Limit snacks, and stick mostly to healthy snacks. Buy little or no junk food so it’s not there to tempt kids, and they’ll be happier to have a healthy snack when they’re genuinely hungry.
  • Watch out for extra empty calories from beverages like sugary kids’ drinks, soda, and sweetened iced tea. Kids should mostly drink water and some natural fruit juice. You can even dilute fruit juice with water to reduce the calories.
  • Get your child active every day. Encourage outdoor play and participation in sports. Go for family walks or bike rides. Exercise with your child as a fun, healthy bonding activity. Consider getting a dog your kid can run around in the yard with and tag along on walks.
  • Limit total daily screen time on all devices, including the TV, video games, computer, tablets, phones, and so on. Two hours is a widely recommended limit. It’s much easier to help your child lose weight with increased physical activity when they’re not staring at a screen.

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