5 Tips for Parenting Overweight and Depressed Children
The risks of poor sleep, inactivity, and depression eating are clear. But what can parents do about it? Experts offer these tips:
Remember that kids deserve love regardless of their size.
"We encourage parents to give unconditional love," Stone says. "From there, the job is to provide a healthy atmosphere -- healthy food choices, activity, and positive social interactions."
Set a good example.
Parents can be more effective by setting good examples with their own healthy eating than by simply encouraging kids to diet or prohibiting certain foods. "You should help them find healthier choices," Stone tells WebMD. "Don’t restrict everything. That doesn’t work."
One way to avoid having to say "no" when your child goes for the cookie jar is to limit buying unhealthful food in the first place. Not bringing tempting food home keeps you from having to prohibit it when it’s within eyesight on the counter or within easy reach in the pantry.
Don’t scold children for overeating.
This is never a good idea, but especially not when a child is depressed and overweight. "That makes them feel bad and makes them more depressed," Weissman says. And ironically, they may end up eating more to soothe their hurt feelings after you've scolded them.
Treat the issue.
Whether it is depression or being overweight, your child needs treatment. Weissman suggests that parents "first try to deal with the depression and its triggers, then find alternatives to overeating that would be satisfying."
This can help children understand the root of a bad mood that has left them sluggish and susceptible to gaining weight. Finding that understanding can give them motivation to fight back with a healthier lifestyle, Weissman says.