Set the Stage for Success continued...
Talk with your teen to get his buy-in.
To get your overweight teen to focus on managing or losing weight, he has to approve of the approach. He has to be involved. Of course, getting your teen interested in anything might feel like a challenge, and teen weight loss can seem like an especially hard sell. Don't tell your teen that he needs to lose weight. Talk to him. Ask questions instead of making declarations -- and really listen to what he has to say. Ask, "How do you feel about your weight?" Then, be quiet and listen. If your teen is resistant, lay off the topic for a little while. Hopefully you will have planted a seed for thought, and he'll be more open the next time you bring up the issue.
Be your teen's healthy lifestyle coach.
It may not seem like it, but you have more of an influence over your teen than you think. The trick is to not force a healthy lifestyle on your overweight teen. Your role should be more like a coach than a sheriff. Encourage your teen to find his own incentives to change his food and lifestyle choices. Studies support what may seem like common sense: Overweight teens don't feel happy about being overweight. Overweight teens don't want to be teased at school. But overweight teens do want to feel in control.
Start with changes at home.
Your overweight teen is not the only one who needs to make changes to his way of life. To help your teen succeed, you -- and everyone else in the family -- need to embrace a healthier lifestyle, too. If you single out your overweight teen to improve only his habits, it won't work. Instead, your teen is likely to feel criticized and punished, which is much less likely to motivate him than striving for a healthier way of living. Everyone in the family will benefit when you set health goals together.
Share your struggle.
Not sure you're up for the challenge of being a healthy role model? Relax a bit. It's OK if your teen sees you struggling to build new habits. Let him hear your frustration as you waver between choosing a healthy snack like carrots and peanut butter versus an old junk-food standby like chips and dip. Let him know that it can be hard to make the time to go for a walk around the neighborhood and to find the motivation to do it. But remind him -- and yourself -- that feeling good afterward is worth it. Turn the challenges you face into opportunities to ask for your teen's support and to find ways to work together to make healthy lifestyle choices easier for both of you.