Recent reports have noting that movie theaters are losing money as the result of being forced to change the seats in the cinemas from 19 inches wide to 21 inches wide gave me a momentary chuckle but then left me thinking about weight issues that kids, and especially tweens and young teens have to deal with. All of these issues, including eating disorder syndromes, are magnified for tweens and young teens, as they develop emotionally and physically, while confronting social, academic and peer pressures.
Here is a list of seven ways to help our kids from the time they are very young to feel comfortable in their own bodies by the time they are tweens and teens. Let me know what you think of the list!
1. Praise your children for their positive actions, behaviors and words. Make it clear that their response to life as a good citizen and a loving family member is much more important than their looks or body type.
2. Don’t compare or judge people’s looks or bodies. Rather point out a person’s fine character trait or a good deed that a person has done. Your children are always listening to you and what you say, even if you think they are blocking you out! Your attitude very much influences how they will perceive others and themselves.
3. Show your children by your own eating habits, that you recognize the need for eating healthy foods. If you are out of control around certain foods and habits, what message is that sending to your kids?
4. Consider planting a small garden or learning more about the foods we eat with your children. This can be a fun activity like visiting a potato chip factory, or something more serious, like learning about the differences between organic farming and non-organic farming.
5. Cook up delicious meals, at least on occasion, and let the kids help. It can be fun to find recipes together and shop for the ingredients as a family outing. Praise them for their help and don’t get caught up in the milk that spills or the egg that fell and cracked on the floor.
6. Enjoy exercising as a family. Going to the gym or doing a sport together can be wonderful. But simply putting on music and dancing around the house or in the kitchen can burn lots of calories and led to laughs, hugs and feeling connected as a family.
7. And of course, if you child is suddenly gaining or losing weight or showing any form of eating disorder, talk to his or her doctor immediately.