7. Watch Out for Weight and Food Obsessions
Unfortunately, some kids develop an obsessive focus on weight that pushes them to an unhealthy extreme -- binge eating, bulimia, or anorexia. "Kids with low self-esteem are at the highest risk for these eating problems," says Van Beek. As a parent, watch for the following signs that your child may have an unhealthy fixation with weight:
- Secrecy about eating behaviors
- Fixation on calories and exercise
- Frequent attempts to go on fad diets that promise a quick fix
If you suspect your child's weight loss attempts have tipped into dangerous habits, contact a health care provider right away. Many children with eating disorders can be helped through a combination of therapy, medication, medical monitoring, and other treatments.
8. Take the Long View About Your Child's Weight
If preventing weight gain were easy, childhood obesity would not regularly be in the news. Some days you may feel like the cards are stacked against you and your child. Between unrealistic beauty standards, fattening foods everywhere you look, and trying to fit exercise into a busy schedule, it's normal to have setbacks.
Keep setbacks, too, in perspective. You don't develop healthy habits overnight, and you don't always practice them every day. That's just a part of life. You will have bad days. You will sometimes gain weight. Your child will, too. But don't let one bad day or week cause you to give up. Remember that it is your choice to model healthy habits for your family; keeping their good health in mind can help get you through the bad days and focused on better ones. Keep things in perspective, and take things one day at a time.