The rates of obesity worldwide are increasing especially in North America for  preschool age children. Some of the studies are estimating that 10% of preschool age children have an obesity problem.

By the time they get into school, those numbers double, up to one in 5. And it's trending in a negative direction. It's becoming a health crisis that is only going to get worse if we don't intervene.

The simple equation is calories in and calories out. Whatever is greater is going to determine the direction of the weight gain or the weight loss. Now, that's the simple equation and there are a lot of complicating factors. But basically, its calories in versus calories out.

What does that mean for our kids? What they eat matters and what kind of activity they engage in matters.

We've also learned that restrictive diets are not particularly helpful for children, and they are not healthy. They need certain kinds of nutrition in order to develop and for their body to grow properly. So, I'm not advocating any restrictive diets for children unless your healthcare professional has directed you to do something specific along those lines.  

Let's talk about 5 specific tips that will help you as a parent to help your child.

Tip number 1, model good behavior. Let's focus on health and fitness rather than weight. It's important to educate our kids, and they have no idea what nutrition is all about until we teach them. So, as a parent, it's so important to model that for your children and to show them what it means to eat in a healthy way and to make better choices with snacks or meals.

I know. This puts some pressure back on you as a parent because YOU need to model that for them. It doesn't matter what you tell them if you are showing them something different. So, let's own that as parents, shall we?

The second tip that I have for you is to focus on the family. Not a particular individual in the family. If one of your children is obese or has a problem with their weight, we don't want to focus on them. This tends to promote guilt and shame and they feel like they are a little weird or there's something wrong with them. Let's take the focus off of any individual and put it back on the family.

Talk about the things that your family is doing to make better choices. Mom is participating, dad is participating, all the kids are participating to increase the health of the family. That helps the kids who are struggling more than if you were to single them out.

Tip number 3, let's make better snack and meal choices. This is about the fuel we put in our bodies, which are called calories. As a family we do that at very specific times.

Some of the research is very supportive of having specific meal times and also snack times. So, our calories are not just openly available.

Along these lines, don't combine sedentary activity with eating. In other words, let's stay away from turning on the television (for example) and sitting down with a bag of chips. This might be something that you enjoy doing or that is part of your family’s culture. It's pretty obvious that if we combine eating with sedentary activities, we have a higher tendency to get into some unhealthy patterns. Sometimes that sedentary activity takes the mind off of focusing on the body and what the body is telling us about nutritional needs. We miss the cues that we are full that we need to be aware of.

Instead of sedentary activities, we combine our eating with social connection and promoting family relationships. We are talking about dinnertime for example or enjoying a snack together. Eat while we chat about what's going on, how the day is going, what's happening in your life. Those kinds of things are going to really cement the pattern for your child.

That leads me right into the fourth tip which is to limit the sedentary activity to start with. I keep using this word sedentary. It basically means that you are sitting around doing very little. And usually for our kids, sedentary activity involves some kind of screen. Think about that for a minute. A tablet, a television, a screen where they are watching something passively or engaging in a game that requires very little physical activity. Those are sedentary activities and we need to limit them.

Most of the smart phones nowadays and maybe even the tablets have a feature that allows you to monitor and track screen time. Do this for yourself and you might be surprised at just how much screen time you have.

Some of the studies that I reviewed in preparing for this particular video suggested that kids are spending upwards of 24 or more hours a week on screen time. That's crazy. And some have even more than that.

We need to put limits and parameters around that because kids are easily sucked into it. And as their body sits there without moving around or being active, the calories that they are taking in are having a different effect on their metabolism in their physiology. Let's limit the sedentary activity. That's number 4.

If we are taking away that sedentary activity, what are we going to replace it with? Tip number 5, engage in physical activity with your children. Engage so you can build your relationship. This will have other positive effects. Instead of watching the program on the screen, go out and take a walk. Go for a hike. Visit the park. Go to a museum. Visit some historical site in your town or your neighborhood.

There are obvious cultural advantages to this too, but the physical advantages are huge because now we're up and moving. And we're pairing physical activity with a positive experience that they get to have with you –their parent. Engage in physical activities together. Powerful way to wrap up these 5 tips.

You've got this. I know parenting can be a challenging thing but you don't have to do this alone. We have a whole team at Live On Purpose ready to assist you including myself and Vicki, jump on a discovery call with one of our coaches to see what services we offer. You can get there through breakthroughcall. We're on your team and we're ready to help.

Join the discussion 2 Comments

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