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Helping the Overweight Child - Helping your child with social and emotional concerns

It doesn't take long for children to figure out that our culture and their peers idealize thinness. Children who are overweight are especially at risk of being teased and feeling alone. This can cause low self-esteem and depression.

For information about helping a child who is being teased, see the topic Bullying.

To help your child have greater health, confidence, and self-esteem, you can:

  • Avoid talking in terms of your child's weight. How you talk about your child's body has a big impact on your child's self-image. Instead, talk in terms of your child's health, activity level, and other healthy lifestyle choices.
  • Be a good role model by having a healthy attitude about food and activity. Even if you struggle with how you feel about your own body, avoid talk in front of your child about "being fat" and "needing to diet." Instead, talk about and make the same healthy lifestyle choices you'd like for your child.
  • Encourage activities, such as sports and theater. Physical activity helps build physical and emotional confidence. Try different types of sports and activities until your child finds one that he or she likes. Theater can help a child project strength and confidence, even if he or she doesn't feel it at first.
  • Encourage social involvement in community, church, and school activities, which build social skills and confidence.
  • Help your child eat well by providing healthy food choices. Consider seeing a registered dietitian for guidance and new food ideas.
  • Forbid any child (yours included) to tease another child about weight. Talk to your child's teachers and/or counselors, if necessary.
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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: August 29, 2011
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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