Play Up the Positives
Overweight kids tend to have low self-esteem. Just one "fatty" comment from a classmate can reduce your child to tears. That's why it's crucial to empathize with her ("I know that must have hurt -- it's not nice for anyone to make fun of your weight") and to find creative ways to boost her ego.
When Kathryn Roe remarked about her "thunder thighs" one day, her mom, Valerie, figured that other kids had teased the 7-year-old. "We don't say things like that at home," Roe says. So she turned the negative remark into a positive one: Since Kathryn is passionate about ballet, her mom pointed out that professional dancers have big, muscular legs. "Now when we're bouncing on an exercise ball, she'll ask, 'Mom, will this make my legs get stronger?'"
You shouldn't lie to your child about her weight ("No, you're not fat!"), but you should talk about it honestly -- without letting it become an obsession. Don't forget to focus on how pretty her smile is or how much fun she is to be around. And regardless of her size, remind your child every day that you love her.
When she has a setback (such as bingeing at a birthday party), give her a pep talk ("Everyone slips now and then. I'm proud of how you've cut down on junk food!"). Agree on a plan for next time ("You can have either one piece of cake or two cookies"). And celebrate small victories, such as when your child eats a piece of fruit and a serving of vegetables every day for a week. Choose your rewards carefully, though: Make the incentive a visit to the zoo or a game of mini golf, not an ice cream sundae.