For many parents (more often mothers), the fear of being overweight is communicated to a child or teen without the parent even realizing it. This message can result in the youngster worrying excessively about her own weight or body image. It can also lead to secret or closet eating, which can result in a child becoming overweight or developing an eating disorder (or both). In this excerpt from Dr. Susan's Fit & Fun Family Action Plan: 301 Things You Can Do Today, Dr. Susan Bartell explains how to raise a child with a healthy self image.
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Fixing Your Fear
Instead of letting your fear tempt you into a quick fix, take a deep breath and realize that helping your child learn healthful habits and skills is going to be a long-term project. By following the steps here, you'll find that your fear will diminish naturally because you are doing something productive and practical to help your child. Quick fixes and panic don't work. Rather, take slow and steady steps. In addition, explain to your child that becoming healthy is a long-term process. You'll do great!
The following three simple steps will get you on your way.
Refrain from weighing yourself in front of your child. Keep the scale hidden so your child can't weigh himself, either. This is particularly important when you have a preteen or teenager. This is the age that kids (especially girls) are most susceptible to eating disorders.
Don't speak negatively about your own body, the way you look in clothes, or any other aspect of yourself in front of your child.
Try to eat and exercise in moderation. If this is a great struggle for you, hide the struggle from your child. Your child needs to see you eating healthy meals, rather than overeating or skipping meals, and exercising regularly, not under- or overexercising
Pick up Dr. Susan's Fit & Fun Family Action Plan: 301 Things You Can Do Today at Amazon.com.
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