Recently, you’ve started feeling concerned with your 10-year-old child’s weight. They aren’t very physically active, preferring to spend most of their time playing video games or goofing around on their phone. They also choose to snack mostly on junk foods and rarely want to eat anything healthy. You wonder if your child is becoming overweight. If so, how do you help them get fit?
Weight management is the first step in helping your child get fit. If your 10-year-old is a little on the larger side, they may not necessarily be overweight. Children are still going through growth and development. With proper diet and exercise, your child should grow into their weight. If this isn’t the case, further steps like behavior modification should to be taken to get your child healthy. You may even need to consult with a doctor or nutritionist.
In this article, we’ll cover how to talk to your child about their weight and their health. We’ll also provide you with some great ways to help manage your child’s weight. If you’re a parent concerned about the health of your 10-year-old, you won’t want to miss it.
Talking to Your 10-Year-Old About Their Weight and Health
It can be jarring to hear your 10-year old suddenly say “I’m fat”. The first thing you need to do is figure out where these feelings are coming from. Maybe a friend or classmate has been teasing your child about their weight. It may have been an offhanded comment from a relative at a family gathering. Your child may have even picked it up from something they saw on TV or on social media.
If your son or daughter is in a situation where they’re being bullied by an adult or another kid, step in to handle it as soon as possible. If their weight, activity levels, and eating habits are normal, then comfort your child and don’t let them dwell on it. However, if your child is overweight, the first step to take is to talk to them about it. But how do you approach this sensitive subject?
Weight can be a very touchy subject for anyone. The overwhelming desire to be skinny is reaching younger kids more and more through social media and TV advertising. The subject of your child’s weight deserves the most careful attention. Thus, the way you tackle this topic can have lasting effects on your child’s self-esteem and body image.
Start by encouraging your child to have an open conversation with you. Let them know it’s safe for them to share their thoughts and feelings about their body image. Acknowledge your child’s feelings as being real and share in similar experiences if you’ve had any. Reassure your child that people come in all shapes and sizes and you still love them regardless.
Stay away from negativity and judgment. Don’t say things that can have any detrimental effects on your child’s self-image, either. Never use shaming language or play the blame game. Making kids feel worse about their weight can have negative effects on them, as would be the case with just about anyone. Be a good example in the way you talk about your own body image as well as that of others.
When you do sit down with your son or daughter, the best thing to do is put the focus on their overall health instead of their weight. Present things as a united front by getting the entire family involved. If everyone makes an effort to eat better and get more active, your kids will follow by example. Give your child compliments for their good lifestyle choices rather than any weight loss.
Five Great Ways to Help Your 10-Year Old Get Fit
There isn’t a magic bullet available to make your child lose weight quickly and easily. Weight loss requires a number of long-term adjustments to your child’s lifestyle and eating habits. These adjustments also need to be incorporated into your overall family structure. It might sound difficult, but it can be done. Here are five great ways to help your child with their weight today.
1. Set Realistic and Attainable Weight Management Goals
As we mentioned in the intro, your 10-year-old is still growing and developing. You need to keep that fact in mind. Your initial goal when it comes to managing their weight should be to halt weight gain rather than lose weight. As your child continues to grow in height, they’ll start to become thinner naturally.
Managing your child’s weight starts with healthier eating habits and regular exercise. Once these things are in place, you should see any weight gain slow or stop completely. If your child is more overweight or obese, then try setting a goal of losing one pound every two weeks to start. The more realistic the goal, the easier your child will adjust to the lifestyle changes involved.
Follow up on the goals you set for your child with regular trips to your pediatrician. Take them in to have their weight checked and get any blood tests done if your doctor deems them necessary. Don’t do any daily weigh-ins in your home. Your child’s weight can fluctuate from day to day, and these small changes can create additional stress on them and you.
If you feel you need additional help with your child’s weight situation, your pediatrician may be able to guide you. They could refer you to a dietician or even a pediatric nutritionist who can craft a plan to manage your child’s weight through a balanced diet.
2. Encourage Your 10-Year-Old to Get Outside and Be Active
In today’s world, the temptation to sit around can be stronger than ever. Between video games, smartphones, and television, kids can very quickly fall into the trap of not getting active. A lack of physical activity is a major contributing factor to your child being overweight. The question becomes what can you do about it as a parent?
Any sort of physical activity will help your child to expend calories. Go for a walk together or take them on a bike ride. Bring them to the local park for the afternoon and let them run around on the playground equipment. Encourage your child to play outside with their friends rather than online in a video game.
If you feel like your child’s situation calls for more structured exercise, set aside 20 minutes a day three to four times each week. You can spend this time doing the activities mentioned above or trying something new. Introduce your child to a sport they’ve never tried. If they enjoy it, they might be inspired to join a school sports team and get active that way.
3. Change Your Eating Habits and Keep a Food Diary
Kids don’t always make the best decisions when it comes to snack foods or portion sizes. Junk food can become a big part of their diet, and a poor meal schedule can lead to binge eating. Making dietary changes can go a long way towards helping your 10-year-old get their weight under control.
Start by encouraging your child to have three meals a day and two small snacks in between. This will prevent them from going through long periods feeling hungry. Stock up on fruits and vegetables and get them to drink lots of water. Switch to low-fat snacks like pretzels and popcorn instead of cookies and potato chips.
Teach your child to eat only when they’re hungry, and not as an activity to pass the time. Have dinner in the kitchen or dining room without the distractions of the TV or computer. Kids who mindlessly eat while watching TV often aren’t paying attention to their food. This lack of awareness can sometimes lead to overeating.
Work with your child to begin recording a food diary. This isn’t meant to track only what your child eats and how much, but the whole family. Ask your son or daughter to think about their surroundings at the time. Where was the food eaten? Who else was present at the time? This food diary can help you visualize your child’s eating patterns and any problematic foods.
4. Modify Behaviors to Make Positive Changes
It’s also important to begin modifying any behaviors which contributed to your child becoming overweight. Set up a reward system to help your child stay on their diet or exercise routine. As an example, if your child snacks on fruits and vegetables instead of junk food for a week, reward them with a favorite activity or trip out to get a new toy.
Set limits on the amount of time your child spends on inactive pastimes. This could include watching television, using tablets or other mobile devices, and playing video games. Help keep your child from sitting idle too much, which increases their chances of putting on weight.
You can modify behaviors at bedtime as well by removing all screens from your child’s bedroom at night. Kids have an easier time staying slim if they’ve established good sleeping habits. Those who don’t get the recommended amount of sleep can be more likely to become overweight. Lack of sleep can also have detrimental effects on their behavior and mood.
5. Be Supportive of Your 10-Year-Old’s Progress
Progress isn’t always linear. As we mentioned before, you don’t want to consider progress solely as your child losing weight. If they’re making more consistent healthy eating choices (especially of their own accord), that’s progress. If your son or daughter got outside and exercised instead of playing around on their phone, that’s progress, too.
Of course, them losing weight should be celebrated, but it’s not the only metric to track by far. Each time your child makes healthy choices, give them the praise and support they need to continue.
Five Common Setbacks Your 10-Year-Old May Face
It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking weight loss is easy. The idea of “eat less and move around more” can seem like such a simple concept. However, losing weight is often very difficult, and this can be even more true for children. Let’s take a look at a few reasons kids can experience setbacks and challenges.
1. Setting Unrealistic Expectations
Failing to set realistic weight loss goals for kids is an all too common setback. As we explained earlier, a good first goal is to halt any weight gain instead of trying to lose weight. You don’t want to set a goal of your child losing five pounds in a week. It puts far too much pressure on them at too young of an age to be fair.
2. A Lack of Motivation
One of the hardest parts of weight loss for kids is a lack of motivation. They sometimes don’t have the drive to make the changes they need to for success. Involve your child in the process early on. Talk to them and teach them why they need to make the effort. Model good behavior and decisions since children often mimic adults they look up to.
3. Doing Too Much Too Soon
Taking on too much at once can cause kids to want to give up before they get started. You can’t change your child’s entire diet, sign them up for sports, and take them to a doctor at the same time. This is especially true if they were spending most of their time playing video games or watching TV before. Taking things to this extreme will almost always end up in them failing.
Instead, take things slowly with your child’s weight loss. Start with minor changes and work your way up to more major ones over time. They’ll have an easier time adapting to over a long period, and thus the weight loss will be easier.
4. Under-Eating and Skipping Meals
Eating throughout the day is critical to maintaining energy and keeping the body’s metabolism up, even for those trying to lose weight. Skipping meals in place of portion control can backfire when working towards weight loss goals. Your child needs three meals a day to ensure good growth and development. Focus on making healthy choices for your child and not just limiting calories.
5. Falling Back into Old Habits
Kids who have passed their time primarily via screen time will need to engage in more physical activity, as we’ve said. You may find your child rejects the change and falls back into their old routine. Don’t remove these fun activities entirely, but find time for both exercise and video games or social media. Your child may be more responsive to change this way.
Additional Tips for Success
- Getting your child’s weight under control will take time. There will almost certainly be setbacks along the way. Remember to be patient. This can’t be stressed enough.
- Let your child have some sweets or special desserts in rare instances. Don’t use food as a reward, though. Teach them instead to make good decisions when it comes to eating.
- Stay away from strict dieting, fasting, and so-called “fad” diets. They rarely work with kids and will make your child feel like they can’t accomplish their goals.
- Consult with your doctor if your child isn’t making any progress or their self-esteem is being affected by the dieting process.
Obesity in children is a major problem in today’s society. Being overweight or obese places children at elevated risk for poor health. While steps are being taken to better educate parents, the rate of overweight and obese children is still too high according to the CDC.
All parents want their children to be healthy. If you feel your child may be overweight, start managing their weight to see if they grow into it. In a situation where they don’t, make changes to the types of food you keep in your home. Encourage your child to get more active as well. Make changes to their behaviors and consult a doctor if necessary. With the right guidance and support from you, your child can get on the path to being fit before long.