Tips for Parents of Overweight Kids, Age 7 to 9
Goal: Weight maintenance
For an overweight child aged 7 to 9, the goal is usually to help her maintain her weight, not necessarily achieve weight loss. In most cases, if you can keep your child's weight steady for a while, she will grow into it.
What to Do: Take charge of food in the house.
Helping your child maintain her weight will require effort from both of you. As the parent, your first step is to take responsibility for stocking your home with only healthy foods.
At age 7 to 9, your overweight child now has more independence and might be helping herself to her own snacks at home. This means that if you don't stock your pantry with unhealthy foods, she won't have easy access to eat them, says Lawrence Cheskin, MD, director of the Johns Hopkins Weight Management Center in Baltimore.
Of course, it can be hard to say no to your child if she begs or whines for an unhealthy treat at the store. But it's important to stand firm. If you bring the food home, you'll have to say "no" to requests for unhealthy foods over and over again -- instead of just once at the store.
Your focus on the health and well-being of your family while grocery shopping can help prevent setting you and your child up for unnecessary daily tests, where failure can cause long-term health issues.
One fun thing about kids this age is that they are old enough to help out in the kitchen. Take advantage of it. Making a healthy meal with your kid is a great way to talk about a good diet and expose her to new foods, says Ann O. Scheimann, MD, assistant professor of pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins Children's Center in Baltimore.
Guidance: Make healthy eating the goal for the whole family.
Kids at this age are getting savvy. If your child feels like she's being treated differently from the rest of the family because of her weight, she's going to resist. It's not enough to tell your overweight child to eat better or exercise; you have to do it, too. Parents who practice what they preach will likely gain a more successful outcome all along the way -- for everyone.