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Health & Parenting

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7 Mistakes Parents Make With Grade-Schoolers

You may not be able to avoid all parenting pitfalls, but looking before you leap may help you miss the big ones.

1. Denying That Your Kid Is Overweight continued...

Beth Volin, the head of the pediatric primary care clinic at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, agrees. "This is an age where preteens become very body-conscious, and there is a lot of stuff in the media about being super thin," Volin says. "It's not unusual for pediatricians to start to see eating disorders in children in fifth and sixth grades."

Don't single out the child either, says Mackey. "Say, 'We want this whole family to be healthy so we are all going to try to eat better and be more active.'"

Again, children learn by example, so if family members or parents are also obese, do not eat healthy, or are not active, your child will not learn healthy behaviors.

2. Not Watching What You Say (and How You Say It)

"Many times, parents think that they are being helpful and come across as nagging or critical," Mackey says.

What should you say and how should you say it? Offer praise when your grade-schooler does something that is great, such as trying a new sport. "Say, 'I am proud of you for going out and trying a new activity,'" Mackey says.

She also says don't praise your child unless you really mean it. "You can't really over praise a child, but there is a danger of not being genuine if you are doing it all the time. It is also helpful to be specific in your praise," she says. "Say, 'Thank you so much for cleaning up your room. It makes me feels so proud of you for being so responsible.' Label what it is and tell them how it makes you feel."

3. Not Practicing What You Preach

Mackey says, "The fastest way to get a child to not listen to you is saying one thing and doing another. Take a really hard look at yourself and make sure you are a good role model and that what you are doing is what you want your child to do."

This includes every aspect of your lifestyle -- from whether you smoke, binge drink, or use other drugs, to how you handle stress and how you treat other people in your family and in the community.

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