SPEAKING WITH Children About Weight

Weight: A Big Issue? While weight can be considered a sensitive issue for many adults, we have found that most – however, not all – children are less concerned about their weight than their parents. Nevertheless, parents can be uneasy about increasing the issue of overweight, fearing that to take action will harm their child’s feelings, harm self-esteem or make food and eating a ‘big concern’. Like all sensitive issues there are more and less helpful means of talking to your son or daughter about their weight.

This guide to the Do’s and Don’ts of speaking with children about weight is dependant on our experience of talking to hundreds of children and families about weight problems. Should I speak to my child about weight? Before talking to your son or daughter, it is a good idea to make sure if they are actually overweight. It could be difficult to learn if you’re concerned about your son or daughter’s weight. Medical researchers use several measures to check on if a child is overweight including Body Mass Index (BMI), waist circumference and body fat. You can calculate your son or daughter’s BMI using the specialist calculator on the Weight Concern website, or ask a GP or School Nurse to help you with this.

Whether or not you want to speak at length to your child about weight might depend on what you anticipate these to do about any of it. Children up to the age of 7 have little immediate control over what they eat and how they spend their time. Your child’s weight can be managed by controlling their access to sugary and fatty foods and making sure there is plenty of chance to be active.

At this age group, few children would reap the benefits of talking about weight, although parents should emphasise healthy text messages about food and activity still. Primary School age children (age 7 – 11) have the opportunity to make more choices about what they eat and what they do. Handling weight during these years entails some degree of co-operation between mother or father and child usually.

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Because of this, it can be helpful for parents to talk to the youngster about why these are being asked to eat fewer processed foods. Adolescents (age 12 onwards) have quite advanced views about nourishment, health insurance and strong feelings about if they like the appearance of their body at a heavier weight.

They have significantly more (but not total) responsibility for the food that they eat and how they spend their time. The idea can be understood by them of managing weight, and with support, can come up with creative ideas about this. Think about weighing my child? At any age group, weighing your child regularly – no more than once a week – can help you retain an eye on the problem and help prevent it getting any worse. Keeping an over weight child’s weight stable as they develop is the safest way to help them lose extra fat and achieve a healthy body shape. Large weight losses for children aren’t recommended and should only be attempted for very obese children with regular specialist guidance.

How will i introduce the topic? The simplest way to make something into a big issue is to truly have a ‘big talk’ about it. Therefore we recommend avoiding the big talk unless your son or daughter desires to obviously. Instead, take the opportunity to talk a bit about weight when suitable opportunities arise. When other family members or friends comment (often in a proper meaning way) about how ‘big’ a kid is. Clothes shopping; when you yourself have to buy clothes that are for a much older child or an adult.

Paying attention to occasions when they inform you of being teased about their size at college. The simplest way to begin a discussion is to ask a child whether such situations bother them and ask whether they want one to help them do something positive about it. Another relative has an illness related to obesity Sometimes, it could be beneficial to acknowledge this to the child, showing that you don’t blame them, but want to help.