Parents are saying weight loss is hardest topic to discuss with kids: So, how do we do this discussion?

Biases Your child is likely being exposed to many different biases that adults hold. What are your own biases?.png

Make sure to checkout the Live Online Seminar with Dr Drew here (spots limited): DrDrewBrazier.com/KidsWeightLoss  Once you sign up for this Live event you will have lifetime access to event. So, if something comes up and you cannot attend live you will still be able to watch it all. 

SEX, DRUGS, ALCOHOL, and WEIGHT LOSS. It might sound a bit bizarre but it’s true that Weight Loss is actually the hardest topic for parents to broach with their children. Really? Yes, it is a very difficult discussion to have IF you don’t know how to go about it. However, it can be super easy if you know how to bring up the conversation and help change the trajectory of your child’s health!

Parenting is hard enough. There are so many factors that go into this process. I get it, I am a parent. Sometimes as a parent I totally freak out while not knowing how to respond. Even though I am trained in the field of psychology I still have moments of scratching my head, spinning circles, and a little panic. What I find to be most helpful is to ask, learn, and figure out how to best address the situation. “Don’t avoid rather, engage!” is a mantra worth living by as a parent. 

When your child started gaining more weight you probably wondered, “how do I start talking about this with him/her?” You’ve probably searched the internet. Maybe you have read a book. You have talked with friends. Maybe you’ve even put them on a diet. I don’t ever wish to make a parent feel bad, especially when you are searching and trying! You are doing your best with the tools you currently have. I want to share in this post skills to help you even more, and also invite you to my in depth online seminar that dives down even deeper, which also includes ongoing support (insert link here)! BUT, the main thing to focus on right now is to not avoid or just put your kid on a diet. This will only cause more problems. The cost of inaction is high… so let’s dive in!

1.Biases   Your child is likely being exposed to many different biases that adults hold. What are your own biases? Specifically ask yourself these questions:

  • What is my view on real health?
  • How do I view people with weight issues?
  • What are my unsaid perceptions?

This isn’t to make you feel bad, rather it’s to help you take a sincere look at how you view health. Do you view health as “being skinny” or “not being fat?” What is real health to you? Do you view it in a more holistic manner, such as “being full of energy” “feeling empowered in life” “being in control of health both mind and body?” Spend some time reflecting and writing down what your current views on real health are. If they are hurtful views you don’t need to judge yourself for that, instead just start working to overcome them. That’s part of what I teach in the seminar :)! DrDrewBrazier.com/KidsWeightLoss

The next question I mentioned was how do you view people with weight issues? Do you think people with weight issues are lazy, inconsistent ,bad at follow through, or don’t care? If you do, you might want to take a look at those incorrect biases!

The third question I asked was about your unsaid perceptions. If you have negative bias towards people who struggle with weight the chances are your children pick up on those. It’s critical that you first take a look at your beliefs. Again, this isn’t to tear you down. Being honest with yourself doesn’t mean being harsh towards yourself. After all, kids pick up on when you are being harsh towards yourself, as well!

2. We Actually Don’t Talk about Weight    The truth is talking to a kiddo who is overweight about weight can have long lasting NEGATIVE effects (Please see: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27270419).

This doesn’t mean we avoid talking about HEALTH. There is a huge difference in discussing REAL HEALTH vs. Weight Problems. And, we don’t focus on talking about real health so a kid can lose weight. Obviously, when a kid is practicing principles of real health they will more likely achieve a healthy weight and sustain good health. Better yet, when a FAMILY practices real health the child will be much more likely to maintain a healthier life. You are not only hurting your child psychologically/emotionally by discussing weight but you are also hurting them physically. You see, when you start talking about weight as a problem with the kid they begin to view themselves poorly and associate any work towards better health as frustrating and stressful. Instead, we want them to view real health as enjoyable. When someone views achieving real health as just a frustrating and stressful process they will likely not actually achieve good health. They will most likely continue to have a life long struggle with weight and their body. Furthermore, when you feel a lot of stress, you will have more cortisol pumping through your body. This is a stress hormone and when there is excess it leads to more weight gain.

Now, I recognize that these comments are typically made with good intention and love. I don’t doubt that. Again, this is a tricky subject and we usually screw it up out of ignorance and not out of malice. That’s why I’m screaming this topic from the roof tops.

Consider Jennifer, an adult lady in her mid 30’s. She was a super smart young lady and very talented in many skills. Her parents were busy in life. They were doing a lot of great things to show her support. However, Jennifer’s medical doctor mentioned that her BMI was too high and she was gaining too much weight when she was 11 years old. So, her parents put her on a diet and told her she needed to exercise a lot more. They wouldn’t attend her scholarly events but would attend her athletic events- even though she hated organized sports. They never yelled at her and they never actually called her fat. The problem here was that they didn’t really know what to do so they figured if they put her on a diet and made her exercise and only reinforce activities that include exercise then it should work. This totally backfired. Why did this young Jennifer have to be on a diet herself? Why could the whole family not practice better eating? How humiliating is that when at a family dinner you have to eat the special food while everyone else eats something different? Why is the whole family not out walking together? Hmmmmm. Again, this was never meant to be harmful but it did lead to years of harmful consequences. Jennifer found her groove in life and built her confidence by learning principles of real health.

Please, don’t fall into these traps! Again, we aren’t avoiding nor are we “being soft” with our kids. We are being wise and supportive in a very health manner! 

3. Health isn’t about what you can lose, Health is about what you stand to gain   Real health needs to focus on what a person gains.

I also like to teach people that “not is not a goal.” In other words if we focus on what we don’t want we rarely reach our health goals. Instead, we focus on the direction in which we are going. This principle completely applies to talking about health with kids.

We started talking about health with our oldest kid when she was very young. The conversation was always about making her muscles and bones strong, her brain think better, help her run faster, and simply feel better overall. START EARLY! Prevention is the best way to go about it. 

So many times I have parents bring me their kiddo and ask me to help them focus better. After I find out they are eating hundreds of grams of sugar each day I want to scream. How do you expect a kiddo to focus well when they are relying on so much sugar? I do understand that when there is a true diagnosis of ADHD a kid is looking to sugar as a form of self-medication because it raises dopamine quickly, which they need more of. However, turning towards sugar has got to go when we are trying to get our kids to think more clearly. In my seminar I go into more specific foods, but for now when trying to help your kid become more healthy and thinking more clearly/focusing you can be creative with fruits, healthy fats, and high protein foods. Don’t just tell them to lay off the sugar. Teach them how to be creative and have fun.

There doesn’t need to be a focus on losing inches. You can try talking with your kid about functional goals they have. What are they wanting to accomplish that involves any physical movement? And then practice and move with them.

You might have the problem that your child is addicted to a phone or video games. Well, here is the short and dirty. You are in control of their electronics. Somehow this truth has been forgotten. Even if they purchased the actual game or system I’m sure they are using your home and electricity to play it :). So, we don’t need to be mean but we can set very clear boundaries about electronics. But, what if they threaten suicide or other major threats? Take the threats serious. This is all the more reason to reduce screen time. If they make a threat such as any of those they do need to visit with a local licensed mental health professional. It might sound like I’m being insensitive about this subject. But the reality is only having friends over a gaming system and not engaging in life is not a sustainable healthy lifestyle. In fact, its damaging. Having some friends from the virtual world is great but solely relying upon virtual friends and limited human-to-human interaction is not acceptable. BUT, don’t just tell them… set boundaries and offer opportunities of time with you. If they have opportunities of more time doing healthy activities with you they will be more likely to achieve good health!

4. Healthy Living cannot be a foreign concept, they need to see it demonstrated on a regular bases. Parents focusing on their own health is critical.

Now, there is a catch to this. I will see kiddos come to me who have parents that are in extremely great health while the kid’s health is in shambles. What happens here? Well, the parents take good care of themselves but feel it’s ok for the kid to just be a kid and eat whatever they want and do whatever they want. They neglect to INVOLVE their kids in healthy activities together. Your child does need to see you living a health life but also be involved in healthy living. 

What exactly can you do to start living more healthy to be an example to your kid. Focus on these three fundamentals.

 

  • Sleep: make sure you are working on getting restorative sleep each night. I teach a full course on this subject because it’s a true problem for many. Don’t neglect your own sleep and realize that it does take work to achieve good sleep. This doesn’t mean go take a bunch of sleep pills. It means learn what it takes to create good sleep.
  • Movement: you don’t have to be a gym rat. In fact, it’s super healthy to help your kiddo learn how to find fun activities and move more during the day. I teach a lot more on this subject in my online seminar  (insert link)

 

  • Nutrition: Know what you are eating and how it helps your body and brain. Do not go on a bunch of fad diets and avoid yo-yo dieting. Learn real nutrition and make it fun. Again, I teach a lot more of this in my online seminar (insert link).

5. Responding when your kiddo comes to you to talk about weight, and maybe has been picked on about their weight   

 First off, my heart breaks for you and for them. In fact, as I am writing this right now I can feel my emotions running high. I am very passionate about this exact subject. I want to give you some skills to help assure your kid will come to you more about this and how you can help them feel strong about who they are. After all, one of the best relationships we can have in this life is that with our own body!

 

  • Don’t lecture! When your child opens up or asks questions about weight you must avoid lecturing. This is not a time to tell them that maybe they should fix their weight or listen to others comments. This is not a time to blame them nor make plans to lose weight.

 

  • Be curious!  Ask questions in a sincere manner. This might be hard to first grasp but I do cover this more in my online seminar (insert link). You want them to feel heard and respected. If they want to swear about it and get all pissed off then allow them to do so. Do not make them feel bad for any reaction to the subject. In fact, some passion from you might be good. NOW HEAR ME… this doesn’t mean making threats or charging on over to someones’ house to give it to them. Instead, be real about your emotion with them. BUT, remember this is about your child- not you! Ask questions to let them feel heard and to find out what’s really going on. Don’t minimize things that might have been said. Don’t make someone else look good who has said something horrible. Don’t say, “ I couldn’t see that person saying/thinking that.” Let your child talk! Use the acronym, WAIT (Why Am I Talking) when making any comments. LISTEN! 

 

 

  • Express gratitude! You don’t want to be all weird about it but you do want to thank your child for talking to you. Let them know how much that means to you that they opened up and trusted you. Don’t overdo but do be genuinely grateful!

 

  • Debunk perfectionism ! Society teaches everyone that they need to strive for perfection. This is killer for kids these days. Actively be listening for perfectionistic talk and help them eliminate it. I always teach it’s important to be 100% satisfied with 80% lifestyle. What I mean by this is accepting faults as points to learn from and not as me being a failure. Our kids feel like one little flaw in their body means no one will like them. We need to be straight with our kidsabout accepting ourselves for who we are. Change what we can and let it be with what we cannot. This takes some work!

 

I really look forward to seeing you in the Live Seminar. Remember, once you have register you have lifetime access to the event. Check it out: DrDrewBrazier.com/KidsWeightLoss 

 

See you soon,

 

Dr Drew

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