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Raising Fit Kids: Healthy Nurtition, Exercise, and Weight

  This content is selected and controlled by WebMD's editorial staff in collaboration with Sanford Health Systems.

2. Work on Building Your Kid's Self-Esteem

For kids to lead happy, healthy lives, many pediatricians recommend helping them develop strong self-esteem and a positive body image.

You may think your child will gain self-esteem when she fits into smaller clothes, but actually it's the other way around. Having a positive self-esteem is an essential building block to getting to a healthier weight. As a parent, it's important to look for ways to help your child feel good about herself and make it as much your focus as revamping your family's eating and exercise habits.

Of course, if you struggle with your own weight and self-esteem issues, this may feel like a lot to ask. If you feel hopeless about your child's weight, childhood obesity in general, or even your own weight, you may not feel equipped to provide your child the tools she needs to develop healthy habits and improved self-esteem.

Yet, your experience can be instructional -- and even inspirational -- for your child, if she's old enough to understand. If you've struggled with feelings of isolation and loneliness because of your weight, tell her what it was like for you. Share your current struggles and successes. Hearing that you hit bumps in the road and how you handle them will help your child know she can also keep going when she stumbles.

The time you spend with your child, sharing stories and listening to her as she deals with child weight issues will help her feel important and loved -- key ingredients to healthy self-esteem.

3. Set Realistic Goals – Change Happens in Small Steps, Takes Time

Helping your family focus on small, attainable, healthy lifestyle changes can move you all in a positive direction. At first, everyone in the family may have goals as simple as:

  • Eat a vegetable with every meal.
  • Drink a glass of water instead of soda every day.
  • Take 10 minutes out of your day for a walk.

Better yet, ask your child to set goals that feel attainable to him. "Realistic goals give your child the chance to prove what he can do," says Joan Kinlan, MD, a child and adolescent psychiatrist in Washington, D.C.

Kinlan also suggests that parents give overweight children lots of encouragement along the way. "The sense of accomplishment that comes from starting small and building on that success can have long-lasting benefits."

 

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