How to talk to kids about body weight (without making it a big deal)

As parents, it can be hard to know where to start when it comes to talking about body weight, but if one thing is certain, it’s that this is a series of conversations about it. worth.

They don’t have to be big hearts or anything like that, but rather gradual, casual conversations that make it clear to your child that it’s okay to talk and ask questions about weight.

If we hesitate to talk about it, it can create shame and worry in children.

And chances are they hear about weights from lots of other places anyway, whether it’s at school, on TV, or online. So at least by having these conversations yourself, you can help them see that what they hear about weight isn’t always right.

It’s no secret that childhood obesity in the UK is on the rise. Helping kids achieve a healthy weight, then – without shaming them – is crucial. Experts point out that it can reduce their risk of developing diseases, such as diabetes or hypertension, later in life. A more immediate impact is that it can improve children’s self-esteem and well-being.

A new resource from researchers at the University of Bath and the British Dietetic Association (BDA) is full of useful information on parents’ starting points when it comes to what is – let’s face it – a bit of a minefield.

So how can you start talking about healthy weight? Here’s what the experts suggest.

1. Avoid criticizing your own weight or appearance and that of others – this can lead children to believe that this is how you will judge them too.

2. Greet people by telling them how nice it is to see them rather than commenting on their appearance.

3. If you need to talk to your child about weight, steer the conversation around the need for changes to help them grow and be healthy, so they don’t worry about their weight .

4. Speak positively about food and physical activity. Help your child learn that eating a variety of foods and being active are normal and enjoyable things, not things to do just to control our weight. For example, you could say, “Great, you ate all your vegetables, that’ll help you be healthy and grow well,” or “I feel better after that walk, don’t I?” “.

5. Try to make sure your child sees you eating a range of foods and being active yourself.

And it’s not just up to you to reinforce these messages, the advice suggests that other people – grandparents, friends, family members – can also participate.

How to help your child feel good about themselves

If there’s one thing we want as parents, it’s for our children to grow up as healthy and confident as possible. Here are some expert-approved ways to help them feel good about who they are:

1. Teach them that everyone deserves respect, no matter their size, shape or ability – this will help them not worry too much about their own bodies.

2. If you’re talking about your child’s weight, tell him it’s because you want him to grow well and be healthy, not to look a certain way.

3. Talk about the amazing things our bodies can do, regardless of size.

4. Avoid saying that your child or other people should do or wear certain things because of their weight.

5. Praise your child for a variety of things so he knows you love him for who he is, not for what he looks like or only when he does well at something.

6. Talk to your child about what they see online, on social media and on TV – explain that lighting, makeup and photo editing are used to make people look different from who they are in the real life.

7. Children are more likely to keep doing things if they like them – try to help children notice the benefits of exercise, such as fun, energy and well-being, and find the types they like the most.

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