We worry about so many things as moms. Lately I've been wondering whether should I be concerned about my child's weight.
I know this can be a sensitive issue for some. There's not always a direct correlation between weight and health, but if I have concerns, when is too young to address them with my child? And and how the heck do I go about it in a productive, nurturing, and positive way?
I realized the first step is to find out whether or not my child is actually overweight. If you're in the same boat, start by chatting with your child's pediatrician. They know your child's history, and they understand their genetics, lifestyle, and other factors that are contributing to the situation. You can also measure your child's BMI (body mass index). BMI is a calculation using one's height to weight ratio. This can give you a general idea of where your child is and where they should be. (Keep in mind, BMI may not always be the most accurate, as all children grow and develop differently. Not to mention, if your kids are anything like mine, they all tend to carry a significant amount of baby fat for a few years, which I think is absolutely adorable!)
Okay, so let's say after confiding with the doctor and maybe a few loved ones, the prognosis comes back that my kid would be best off losing a few pounds. What next?! Here are some ideas to help promote health in your home:
Eat Dinner as a Family:
Eating dinners together as a family has so many benefits. It allows children and parents to come together at the end of the day to reconnect and talk about everything that's going on. Eating together also gives us parents a chance to model proper manners, healthy eating, and turn taking.
One thing that I've found is that sitting down and actually eating a meal -- as opposed to eating in the car, standing at the counter, or even sitting on the couch -- allows your body to recognize that it's meal time and to properly digest and appreciate the food that it's being fed.
It is also a good opportunity to monitor what your child is actually eating, including portion sizes, which can often be a trouble spot for a lot of us. When we only provide healthy options for our kids, they'll eat the healthy options! It's up to us as parents to provide them.
Move! Whether it's going on walks or getting involved in an organized activity or team sport, it's important that our young ones get their little bodies moving! I think that being active is a learned trait, one that children will easily pick up from their parents. Of course activity doesn't have to be anything intense, so when in doubt, anything is better than nothing!
We've recently invested in some good bikes for our family. This allows us to all get out and ride together. Another fun thing we enjoy doing is playing pickleball. Even our young 4-year-old can get the concept and has fun swinging his paddle around and running after the ball.
Children need their sleep! Did you know that all of our growing and recovering happens while we sleep? So the more sleep kids get, the more they're fueled for the next day! Seems pretty simple, right? But for some reason, it's never that easy. I'm guilty of getting lax, especially on weekends. I'll let my older kids stay up later than necessary (even though I'm fast asleep myself), and it's amazing how quickly I notice their patience, energy, and demeanor deteriorate for the following few days.
Always try to remove screens and devices a few hours before bedtime. Create a routine so your littles see that you're making good sleep a priority in your home. Provide clean, decluttered, peaceful spaces for your children to rest, and you'll quickly notice that their health and happiness increasing!
Promote Positive Self Worth:
Our children are mirrors and sponges all at the same time! They'll do as they see and hear, and they'll act just like those closest to them. As parents and mentors, let's be examples of a healthy lifestyle. But let's also do our best to instill value in our children -- value that has absolutely nothing to do with their appearance.
In a world where judgement comes so quickly, teaching our kids that they have worth regardless of the thoughts and opinions of others will teach them confidence they need to be successful and feel fulfilled. This is something I am personally still working on as a grown adult -- and I'm always looking for sincere ways to build up my children that have nothing to do with their appearance or abilities. So keep those positive mantras coming -- encourage your littles to do their best every day and remind them that they are loved no matter what!