Making Healthy Changes
It's never too late to make healthy changes. But, the sooner you start, the better - long-time habits are harder to change.
- Aim for Lifelong Habits
- These are the kinds of habits that you and your kids can keep up forever. Avoid extreme changes. Small steps are easier to take every day.
- Do It as a Family
- Healthy habits will benefit everyone - no matter what their weight. Involving the entire family will help give your child a healthy example. Parents are role models - even if it doesn't always feel that way. If the entire family makes healthy changes, it will help keep one or two from feeling singled out. Having everyone involved helps to create a built-in support group - you can help each other stay on track.
Set Goals for Slow, Steady ProgressEven small changes can make a difference over time, which makes them easier to do every day. Try only one or two changes at a time. Let your child help set goals and make changes whenever possible. Listen to his or her ideas and concerns.
- Focus on Fitness, Not Weight
- Focusing on weight or body shape can send the message that your approval and love depends on your child's looks. Our kids are overwhelmed by messages about "beauty" through the media and their peers. They need to know that "beauty" comes in many shapes, sizes, colors and styles and that one is not better than the other.
- Encourage, Praise and Support
- These actions motivate better than teasing, criticizing or punishing. Don't use food for rewards - or to punish. Look for other ways to reward progress - like taking a bicycle ride or going to the park together. Choose something that will be meaningful to your child.
- Don't Put Your Child on a Diet
- Diets can hurt a developing child. Most often, small improvements in physical activity and eating habits are all that are needed. Talk to your child's health care provider if you are unsure about what changes to make.