Tweens are in an awkward stage. It’s the age when they aren’t small children and they aren’t teenagers. They want to be cool, but they still want to be coddled (just not in public). As the peers of tweens become more important to them, so does their own self image. A tween who is a bit overweight has every potential to suffer from low self esteem and depression. Depending on the reason for the weight, they may even be on the road to unhealthy lifestyle habits.
There are a variety of reasons for a child to be overweight. During the tween years, the body is preparing for sudden growth spurts. However, it’s pretty hard to convince a developing tween that there is any rational reason for them to be a bit overweight. Sometimes, parents are to blame for an overweight child. Poor eating habits based on a lack of available time lead to parents teaching their own children the same techniques.
If you want to help your tween to lose weight, the best way is to lead by example. You don’t have to go on a diet. You don’t really have to do anything drastic. Certainly don’t use the information on the food pyramid to guide you. Use your own best judgment based on your own family’s needs.
To help your tween lose weight, you just need to make sure that the amount of calories consumed matches the amount of energy used. You don’t even have to count calories, just use common sense. If you feed your child hot dogs and macaroni and cheese, then they sit in front of the television for 4 hours, they are going to gain weight. Use some of the tips below to help your tween lose weight and make healthy choices.
Exercise together. Even if you are short on time, a brief walk around the block can do wonders for someone who isn’t active. Take turns picking something to do. Twenty minutes after dinner can be a bonding experience and keeps you both in shape.
Get off the scale. Tweens aren’t exactly known for their patience. If they want to get in shape, they are going to want to see results now. When the scale moves too slow, it can be crushing to a fragile ego.
Try new foods. Take turns picking out new foods to try. Use a theme like a color or food group to decide which one to try tonight!
Phase out the junk food. You don’t have to throw away everything in the cabinet, but when the Doritos are gone, don’t buy more.
Use a reward system. Reward yourself and your tween for your healthy progress. Take a day off and go to the park or something else you both can enjoy.
Make it a team effort. You aren’t (hopefully) going to walk up to your tween, tell them they need to lose some weight and start throwing broccoli at him or her. What you can do is talk about how you want to make a change in the lifestyle of the household. Discuss some of the unhealthy options you have been using and talk about viable options you would both enjoy to get healthy.
Turn getting healthy into a savings account. For one week, go about your usual habits. If you eat out a lot, keep track of the money spent on fast food. In the following weeks, don’t eat out, but put that money in a jar someplace. Make a goal of someplace to go with that money, like an indoor water park. Indoor water parks are great solutions for winter time and they are also a great way to motivate yourself to get healthy so you and your tween won’t be embarrassed in your bathing suits!
In short, the most important thing is that you and yoru tween get healthy in such a way as to not damage anyone’s self esteem. You don’t even need to discuss losing weight. You do need to discuss having more energy and feeling better in general. Make it a positive experience for the whole family!