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.
Immersion treatment -- when a child enrolls at a summer camp or school for overweight kids -- is another option for older kids. Search the Internet for "weight loss programs for kids." And ask your pediatrician to recommend a program near you. But remember, if your child returns to an unhealthy home environment at the end of program, the pounds will come right back.
Guidance: Give your overweight child family support.
Being healthy is good for your whole family. The messages you send your child when you eat healthfully and make efforts to be active -- or you don't -- are very powerful.
Ultimately, when your child grows up, it will be up to him to be completely and independently responsible for his lifestyle choices, but right now you are one of his most influential role models. If you struggle with staying healthy yourself, share your feelings, but stay persistent with pursuing your healthy goals and helping your child achieve his. Your efforts will help your overweight child now and for years to come.