How to Help Your Child Manage Their Weight

Most of a child's body weight is genetically determined, and as a parent, you will not be able to control it. However, you can foster healthy habits and good self-esteem in your child, so they will learn to love and take good care of their bodies.


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    Avoid relying on television and junk food for your children. It's natural to spend time in front of the TV, and get fast food sometimes, but don't allow it to become a family habit. This is bad for all of you.
    • When you want them out of your hair, bring out some cool toys or library books. Leave TV for special occasions, or only certain times of the day.
    • If you don't have time to cook, buy healthy microwaveable meals rather than constant fast food.
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    Encourage healthy eating. Keep healthy foods in your fridge and pantry, for both mealtimes and snacks. Talk about maintaining a balanced diet as a goal (not cutting out all fat), and about eating sweets in moderation.
    • Let them see you eating healthy foods.
    • Avoid controlling your child too much, or they will binge-eat when you aren't looking. This can lead to serious health problems.
    • Stay away from fad diets, diets that limit your food groups, or strict diets in general. If you constantly talk about controlling your weight, your child will learn that body fat and sweets are something to feel guilty about, leading to unhealthy behavior.
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    Help your child find a way to get exercise. Social children may enjoy team sports, and you can help them find out an activity that they enjoy attending. If they dislike it, allow them to quit, so they don't associate exercise with negative feelings.
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    Try individual or small group sports. Some children may dislike the competitive or highly social nature of sports, and that's okay—it's more important that they learn that exercise is fun.
    • Play backyard sports as a family, without keeping score.
    • Make sports a collaborative effort: work together to make baskets, pass a ball around, or practice hitting a baseball.
    • Keep outdoor toys and sports equipment easily accessible, so they can run out and play whenever they like.
    • Try incorporating walks and hikes into the family routine.
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    Teach good eating habits. It's important that all children have a healthy attitude towards food.
    • Fill up between 1/3 to 1/2 of their plate with fruits and vegetables.
    • Encourage them to snack if they feel hungry.
    • Explain the importance of only eating when they are hungry.
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    Help them pick out food. Take them with you down the fruits and vegetables section of the grocery store, and ask them to choose some foods for you to make. If your kids have a say in what healthy foods come home, they are more likely to eat those foods.
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    Explain that everyone should exercise and love their body, regardless of their size. Chubby children may feel ashamed about their weight, causing them to hesitate to exercise and not take good care of their bodies. Don't let this happen. Tell them that they can be strong and active people, and that their body is not a hindrance.
    • Expose them to pictures of fat athletes and fat children exercising and having fun.
    • Never criticize or make fun of people for being fat.
    • Love your body, and let your children see you loving your body. They will copy you.
    • Limit their exposure to magazines and TV, as these feature overly-thin casts and may lead to diminished self esteem.
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    Give them their own water cups, and have them refilled often. Hydration will help them stay energetic and healthy. The water cups can come with you in the car, at the table, and at their desks.
    • Go to the water bottle section of a store. Have them pick out a reusable cup in their favorite color, possibly with cartoon characters on it. This will help make it feel like it's theirs.
    • Young children, or children who have poor motor skills, may need a sippy cup to avoid spills.
    • Add a silly straw to make it more fun and easy to drink from.
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    Talk about junk food. Explain that everyone eats some, and that it's perfectly okay as long as you eat it in moderation. Allow them to have a small/moderate amount at a certain time period (e.g. cookies for a bedtime snack). Let them know that it's nothing to be ashamed of.
    • If one sibling is thinner, do not give them more junk food than their chubbier sibling(s). This will upset them and make the chubbier sibling(s) feel that they deserve more too.
    • If your child is sneaking junk food, make healthy snacks more available, especially ones with healthier fats (e.g. nuts and peanut butter). Talk to them if secretive eating becomes a problem.
    • Never let them see you being guilty about food. Eat dessert and enjoy it!
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    Encourage their self-esteem. Don't make your praise contingent upon lost weight—teach them to always love themselves as they are. When they love their bodies, they'll take good care of them, whatever their weight may be.
    • When you go shopping with your daughter, help her pick out a cute swimsuit. Praise how adorable she looks, and gently joke about fending off boys at the swimming pool. This will help her learn that it's okay to swim in public.
    • Never utter the word "slimming" when it comes to finding clothes. It teaches children that their body is something to be minimized. Let them have fun with their wardrobe.
    • Cultivate inner beauty.


  • Buy exercise equipment such as a new bike, kite, trampoline, etc.


  • Never shame them or others for being fat. This can increase their risk of depression and low self esteem, which can increase their risk for overeating and poor health.
  • If you can't help their self-esteem, have them see a psychiatrist or counselor. Never let them lose hope or become depressed.
  • If they show secretive eating signs, or refuse to eat, this may be a sign of an eating disorder. Tell a doctor right away. Eating disorders are very dangerous, no matter how chubby or skinny a child is.

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Categories: Raising Children | Childhood Health