Tips for Parents of Overweight Kids, Age 7 to 9 continued...
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.
Tips for Parents of Overweight Kids, Age 10 to 12
Goal: Weight maintenance, or sometimes a little weight loss
You should talk to your child's doctor about the best approach for his particular situation. Your doctor will make a recommendation based on how overweight your child is, your family's weight history, whether your child has health problems related to weight, and how much growing he still has to do. You shouldn't put your child on a weight loss plan without a doctor's approval.
What to Do: Provide your child with a specific plan.
Your overweight child may be mature enough to take an active role in making his lifestyle healthier. Encourage him. Your kid will need motivation to succeed. Help him come up with specific, attainable goals to keep him on track.
Having him track his steps on a pedometer, writing down his daily activity, and keeping a food diary -- maybe with your assistance -- can help get him involved. It will also be motivating as he sees exercise minutes adding up while getting to a healthier level of fitness and having more energy, too.
Your pediatrician may be able to recommend children's weight management programs near you.
Some commercial weight loss programs will accept kids. Weight Watchers accepts kids aged 10 to 17 with written medical permission. TOPS (Take Off Pounds Sensibly) may allow kids. Always talk with your child's doctor before putting him on any weight loss plan. Unhealthy weight loss diets could harm your child's body and mind. Also make sure your child has developed the maturity to participate in such programs. Your child may benefit most from groups that are oriented to kids his age.