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Weight Worries

Andrea Ramsay Speers - Tuesday, June 18, 2013

What do you do if you're worried about your teen's weight?

Begin by recognizing that however unhappy you are about the weight, your teen is guaranteed to be even more bothered by it.  So no nagging, harping, shaming, and other "helpful" behaviours designed to point out that what your kid is doing isn't working. 

Making the decision to put your teen on a diet is also not going to be helpful.  That requires compliance, and teens aren't so keen on complying with anything they haven't signed on for.  Try saying, "I'm concerned about the amount of unhealthy food we eat in our house -- would you be willing to help me to look through my cookbooks for some healthy and easy meals?  And maybe we could even go to the grocery store together."  This serves the dual purpose of getting buy-in from your teen AND teaching her how to spot a ripe melon and becoming an astute shopper.

Avoid having the junky foods in your house, even if you personally enjoy them.  Creating an environment that promotes healthy eating is an essential step.

Suggest that you get moving together.  Perhaps you take a morning or evening walk together, or join a fitness class or sport team.  By participating yourself you let your teen know that you practice what you preach.

Put a cap on computer and tv time.  You're bound to get resistance, but unless your kid is doing jumping jacks and arm curls while watching The Vampire Diaries, it's an extremely passive (and time-consuming) activity.

Stop being the eating police.  You can't want it more than your teen does.  There may be psychological reasons that are holding her back from taking control of her weight; if so, nothing will happen on the scale until those are appropriately addressed.  But for many teens, Mom and Dad backing out of the enforcer role allows the adolescent to step up and make the choices for herself or himself.  By positioning these changes as not just about weight loss, but about living a healthy lifestyle, your kids are more likely to step up and take the responsibility on for themselves.

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Andrea Ramsay Speers • Psychotherapist & Parent Coach • Oakville Family Institute • 175 Glenashton Dr., Oakville ON • Tel.: 905-491-6949

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