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Your Child Is Fat (Straight Talk For Parents)
I could have said, “obese”, “excessive”, “fat”, “fat” or “thick” instead of “fat”, but those would be verbal restatements, which is a nicer way of saying “fat”. That’s like saying “enhanced interrogation” of a prisoner, instead of torture. I believe we all know what fat means and I think it best expresses how our children feel. Fat looks and looks ugly. Peers don’t call your kids overweight, they call them fat. I realize this term is harsh, but we have a national health crisis right now and it is predicted to get worse. According to a 2007 John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Center for Human Nutrition study, “if rates of obesity and overweight continue at their current pace, by 2015, 75 percent of adults and nearly 24 percent of children and adolescents in the U.S. will be obese or obese.” Maybe we all need a dose of reality “in the face”. Normally, I would never directly tell a kid that they are fat, but their peers and even their siblings will.
Parents, you may believe there is nothing you can do about it. Most do nothing. If one or both of you are fat, you probably feel you have no right to try to intervene. After all, your child is sure to say, “Look who’s talking!” to any sincere effort to help. -and you know, your child is right. If you can’t deal with the problem of being overweight, you are not a reliable source of advice. Is not it? There is still hope.
If neither of you are fat, I assume you believe you are a deserving source of support—more so than your fat parents. However, there are many things to understand about your fat children. They are emotionally hurt. They often get reminders that they are too big – their mirrors broadcast it; their peers at school tease them heartlessly, and television and teen magazines remind them of how they should look.
Children do not focus on health problems; they focus on how they are accepted by their peers. Therefore, a lecture about potential problems (diabetes) does not leave an impression or give great motivation for losing weight. They want to be included, appreciated and loved by their peers. They become aware that their fatness prevents them from fulfilling these powerful and normal needs. At this point, they have a higher potential for depression and anxiety, which can lead to more binge eating.
Girls tend to internalize their distress through depression and low self-esteem, and boys tend to externalize, perhaps through acting out, fighting, drug/alcohol use, or other antisocial behavior. They feel that a normal childhood has been stolen from them, their dissatisfaction is immense, and the future is bleak. How do I know that? They shared these feelings with me in psychotherapy. I felt their pain as their therapist.
Along with the expected cautionary advice, children should undergo a thorough examination to rule out any medical problems that may be contributing to their weight status. When there is a medical problem, it is the shared responsibility of the doctor and the parents to help the child. Consult with other experts such as a nutritionist or dietician. If no medical problem is seen in the etiology, parents must carefully observe the lifestyle choices made by their children and themselves. This is easy to say, but very difficult to do. Realize that children, and those young people now called teenagers (ages 11, 12, and 13), are not fully developed in self-learning skills (psychologists call these self-regulatory traits) and perform poorly in monitoring their own behavioral choices. A parent’s responsibility becomes to help them without coming across as lecturing, nagging and creating power struggles. This is a difficult balancing act.
With the onset of puberty, the changing body of both sexes can be overwhelming for some. Recent research on the effects of puberty clearly shows that for most teenagers, puberty is not perceived as a negative event. Puberty does not cause your child to be fat. For those without a medical background, what causes our youth to be fat? Let’s examine what you already know.
Think about the word sedentary. Now think of television, cell phones, video games, movies, driving or riding in a car, riding the school bus, reducing physical education hours, increasing hours spent sleeping, and a host of other behaviors, and you will realize that all of these activities are not active, but sedentary. With the overwhelming number of moms in the workforce, food preparation, nutritious meal planning and determination to monitor their children’s fatty food intake are weakened by the fatigue of modern life. Pizzerias, burger joints and fried chicken shacks line the main arteries of our cities, beckoning families to park their butts and eat this with fries. Of course, all of these can be super-sized!
With the arrival of two working spouses, maid and lawn services are often included. I’ve lived in several middle-class subdivisions, where lawn service workers descend on the neighborhood to mow, cut, trim, and trim the lawns, while tweens and tweens casually walk around with their cell phones glued to their ears, and of course, multitasking eating butter sandwiches. peanuts/jelly on white bread. I don’t think the kids are lazy, but the parents just don’t guide them effectively. Imagine the calories that can be burned pushing a vacuum cleaner or lawnmower or washing a car!
What not to do for parents.
– As parents, don’t complain about the way you look. Your child will probably do the same. Also, don’t make negative comments about other people’s sizes, because our children will internalize the idea that they will disappoint you if they grow up to be the person you criticize. They don’t want to be a failure in your eyes.
– If one or both of you are fat, don’t tell your fat child to do what you don’t do. In other words, if you can’t model a proper diet or exercise program, keep your mouth shut until you can model effectively. If you want to get them off the couch, get off the couch.
– Without nagging, encourage physical activity by making it a family activity. Ask your child to join you, never make a demand as the latter could cause a power struggle. If you don’t get what you’re looking for, want, or want, you won’t be as upset if you don’t get what you’re looking for.
– Avoid constant discussions about diets. Most children and teenagers are child aware. If you raise the issue, they are more likely to become oppositional and defiant.
– As a family, learn about nutrition and exercise. They are more likely to cooperate.
– Dispel the myth that “looking good” is the most important thing in being accepted by others. Honestly focus on their attributes regardless of their body type.
– Most healthy meals can be prepared in about thirty minutes, about the same time it would take to drive to a fast food restaurant. Try to eat most of your meals at home to reduce your intake of fatty foods.
– Take your children grocery shopping with you. Choose foods together that you can enjoy and that are part of a good diet.
– When you see your children making an effort to eat healthy and exercise, praise them.
– Whenever possible, eat together as a family. Try to have pleasant conversations. Eating is associated with positive activities unlike food, and eating is associated with anxiety. Parents, never use food as positive reinforcement with your children.
– Plan the celebrations around a pleasant activity, not a food fest where overeating can occur.
– If your child reaches out to you and confides in you that he is being teased; listen, comfort, don’t lecture, don’t threaten to go to school and face the teasing kids, the principal, the teacher; just listen and comfort. Ask the child if you can be of any help and accept his answer.
– If the child asks for help, act according to your capabilities. If you need help, find resources in the community. Behavior modification programs have been shown to be effective in weight problems.
– If you suspect that your child has an eating disorder, such as compulsive eating, bulimia or hiding food in his room; seek professional help.
Obesity in children can be solved in most cases. This requires the dedicated effort of parents. Once unhealthy eating patterns are established, they are difficult, but not impossible, to reverse. Parents must be the ones to guide their children who have this debilitating disorder. This must be the attitude of the parents. Obesity can evolve into a lifelong problem with serious consequences. If you’re relying on the child to do something about it, you’ve set up the wrong mindset. If you think your child will “outgrow” the problem, you are wrong. As parents, you must respond as if your child has a treatable illness. There has to be a discussion between mom and dad so that both will be on the same page. what coordinated plan is in effect. You have to agree. More than anything else, model what you want your child to witness in your eating, exercise and lifestyle habits. Let them see how you deny yourself a second portion of potatoes, getting up from the couch to walk, taking the stairs rather than the elevator and washing your own car. Day by day they will gradually witness good habits, and without a word they will follow. Do it. Your child’s health, body image and self-esteem are worth this effort. Don’t you think so?
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