We all wish to see our children become the best version of themselves and in the best possible health. Because of that, it is usually quite pressuring on the parents when a child gains weight or when their eating habits become unhealthy. Unfortunately, worrying about their weight and health can affect our behavior towards them.
When commenting on the body, appearance, or eating habits out of fear about their health, we do not realize that this can affect their self-esteem or the way they see themselves permanently. We talked to certified positive discipline educator from the Positive Discipline Association, USA, Rana Hany, to learn about the best approach.
How do negative comments about a child’s weight affect them?
There are many studies showing that children who receive negative comments by their parents are prone to obesity as well as many other food disorders. Children hearing things like ‘you have to lose weight’, ‘ you need to stop eating’ or ‘ you’re getting fat’ remember every statement ever said to them by their parents and it leaves a negative impact that affects their psychological state and well being for years to come.
Even as adults, when someone tells us we need to lose weight, we feel pressured and in most cases it has a reverse effect. So, imagine how a child would feel. Even if it is being stated out of care, love, or encouragement, unfortunately, the message we send is that they’re fat, they’re ugly, or that they need to change their appearances in order to be accepted and loved.
All these thoughts are released into a child’s subconscious and lead them to detest their bodies and appearances. While it is not meant as body shaming, it still has the same impact on children, lowers their self-esteem and makes it difficult to feel satisfied with their appearances. We make our children believe that people are judged based on their looks and that they will never be accepted.
Tips to help your child lose weight
If you want to help your child lose weight and live a long and healthy life without causing irreparable damage, it is best to refrain from mentioning anything about their weight, appearance, or eating habits.
Use a positive approach
You can focus on the importance of eating healthy and encourage them to run, play, and have more energy to enjoy life.
Avoid making negative or mean remarks about weight
Try to avoid making any negative comments about your weight or anyone else’s because the outer appearance is subjected to change and should not be a criteria used to judge a person. Making sure your child understands this concept is vital to ensure that their self-confidence doesn’t crumble.
Change the entire household’s eating habits
Experts advise that changing eating habits within the household can be an effective tool to help your child accept a healthy lifestyle. When you remove unhealthy food options, they feel that their eating choices are not made by everyone around them. This will prevent your child from feeling that the focus, pressure, and stress lie solely on him/her or that they’re being punished and deprived of eating what they like.
Lead by example
As parents, we need to remember that children tend to mirror and copy everything we do. To prevent them from eating junk food, you need to be a role model. By showing them your healthy food choices and exercising, you’re paving the way to a norm they can pick up. You can even change their habits by doing things together such as walking instead of driving a short distance and spending that time talking and having fun together instead.
FURTHER READING: 5 Online Workout Videos For Your Restless Kids During Quarantine