How to Talk to Your Child About Losing Weight

Never Say Diet

Your overweight child needs a wake-up call to get more exercise and eat better. But don't put her on a diet and don't put her on the scale regularly. "Even young girls can become obsessed with losing weight," says Cynthia M. Bulik, PhD, distinguished professor of eating disorders at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. "We're seeing classic anorexia starting as young as age 6."

These tips will help your child feel good about her body as she gets fit:

  • Show respect for your own body. If your daughter hears you say, "My butt is so fat, I'm gross," she'll learn to equate self-esteem with appearance. Show her you're happy with who you are and are not focused on looks.
  • Praise her effort, not the results. Instead of talking about how great your child looks, say, "Isn't it fun to work up a sweat playing basketball?"
  • Avoid comparisons to classmates. Your child is under enough peer pressure as it is (75 percent of fourth-grade girls say they're on or have been on a diet) without your mentioning that Suzie looks so cute in a miniskirt. Remember: The goal is to teach your child healthy habits, not have her reach a number on the scale.

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