A better approach? Ask him how he feels about his weight or why he’s thinking about it. “A lot of times, children aren’t going to come out and say what they’re feeling until you ask,” says Kristi King, RD, a senior clinical dietitian at Texas Children’s Hospital. “Listen to what they say, and feel free to ask more questions. Their response can tell you how to guide the conversation.”
The right question might clue you into other problems, too, like other kids bullying him.It’s also helpful to ask your child what he thinks would help him feel good about himself. For example, you could say, “How do you think you could be healthier?” and “What can we do as a family to make better choices?”
Watch your words.
Whether your child is 6 or 16, weight-related labels can hurt his feelings, even if you don’t mean for them to, Cataldo says. “Even as a physician, I don’t use the words ‘obesity’ or ‘overweight’ with kids. Instead, I talk about health, and say things like, ‘Being healthy is important,’ and ‘Let’s talk about how you feel good,’” she says.
For the same reason, steer clear of calling kids “fat,” “thin,” or other terms that make a judgment about their appearance.
Try to limit talking about your own looks -- or other people’s. If you talk a lot about slimming down or fret about calories or fat grams at meals, your children are more likely to worry about their own bodies. And that’s true no matter how much they weigh, according to a recent study.
Make health a family affair.
Conversations with a child about weight can be tough for any parent. But remember that what you say doesn’t matter nearly as much as what you do. If your child does have a weight problem, the best way to help her get healthy isn’t to talk to her, it’s to have your whole family make an effort to live healthier. “That way, your child won’t feel singled out and will feel more supported,” Cataldo says.