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Discussing Weight with Your Kids

Talking about weight with our kids is one of the hardest topics to talk about. A WebMD/Sanford Health survey found that parents of teens find it more difficult to talk about weight with their children than talking about sex, drugs, alcohol, or smoking.

So don’t be discouraged by that awkwardness you feel when thinking through conversations about weight with your kids, instead take a moment to prepare yourself and be confident when the discussion comes up.

When it comes to sex, drugs, alcohol, and smoking, we as parents have our information ready. Our rhetoric is sound, and we’re confident in our delivery. With childhood obesity more than tripling in the last 30 years, it is now time to add weight to the topics of discussion we are comfortable talking about with our kids.

To start, let’s realize that the phrase, “I’m fat,” in whatever form it comes out of your child’s mouth is precipitated by something. Is it stemming out of confusion from a Body Mass Index (BMI) report, inter-family weight differences, or among many other things, bullying. In addition, your child is likely to interpret weight, overweight, or underweight, in certain ways and comes to the table with preconceptions that you must take into account. And we as adults, also have our own biases, which whether we realize it or not, will affect how we approach and handle the conversation. But we can take account of our biases and our child’s possible presumptions with a little preparation. 

To help, we worked with the STOP Obesity Alliance to create a conversation guide for parents and caregivers that gives clear steps, situational specific information, tips, and real-life scenarios to prepare for the unique way the discussion on weight comes up with your child and the unique course the conversation may take.

You know your child best and can use The Weigh In Guide to find the tips and scenarios that best relate to what your child is experiencing. Then you can use that information to hold a conversation that is considerate and constructive for you and your child.

Our children’s weight – their health and developing lifestyle – shouldn’t be a topic we shirk from but one we address and feel comfortable engaging in with our kids. Our children need us to more than just hear their concerns about their weight, they need us to normalize the issue by making it something we’re not afraid to talk about. It’s us, the parents who can add or remove the stigma from these talks, and it is us who can empower our youth and give them small specific steps to get them on the path toward their healthiest lifestyle.

What is the hardest part of talking about weight with your child?

Download the tools below to be prepared:

Weigh In: A Conversation Guide for Parents and Adult Caregivers

Hablar Con Sus Hijos Sobre el Peso y la Salud is the Spanish version of the Weigh In guide.

The Weigh In Discussion Toolkit gives you everything you need to hold a group discussion.

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