As we close out September, we’re also closing out the recognition of National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month (NCOAM).
So far this month on the Your Weight Matters Blog, we’ve discussed the following topics to encourage healthier children and families in honor of NCOAM:
While we know that weight management is an important factor of overall health, having the conversation about weight with your loved ones can be extremely difficult – especially when there’s children involved. What should you say about such a sensitive topic?
Handling the Topic of Weight with Your Family
Unfortunately, weight stigma does exist – and it affects everyone from children to elder adults. Therefore, the topic of weight can be hard to talk about.
On the other hand, you care about your children and want health to be a priority. Good health brings energy, vitality and happiness, and it’s a core value for many. You’ll find a few tips to help you navigate the conversation below:
Talk about the Benefits of Healthy Habits
Children don’t always understand the importance of healthy habits such as exercise and sound nutrition. Rather than mentioning weight specifically, talk about the key benefits of such behaviors. For example, you can stress that eating a lot of fruits, vegetables and lean protein will help your child stay energized, strong and happy. This shifts the topic from weight to health, which is the ultimate goal for all of us!
Changes in weight can be emotionally difficult for children and adolescents. For many, this contributes to low self-esteem. Rather than helping your child associate worth with appearance, encourage them to admire kindness, determination and independence. This builds the path for long-lasting self-respect.
Peer pressure can take a serious toll on a child’s physical and emotional development. Teach your child to focus on his/her health and happiness instead of making comparisons. Health is what’s important – not a clothing size or a number on the scale.
Be a Role Model and a Teacher
If you want your children to care about their health, show them that you care about yours. Practice healthy behaviors such as nutritious home-cooking and daily exercise. Our loved ones often learn by example, so let them watch you prioritize health in your own life.
Stay in Communication
Open dialogue is important for building trust, understanding and respect. If your child has concerns or questions about weight, encourage them to say what’s on their mind. Make sure they know you’re there to listen, not to judge.
There are plenty of ways to promote health within your family. As we approach the end of National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, remember the reason your weight matters – for your health! Having this common goal as a family will help all of you feel and perform at your best.