Obesity in teens is a risky business. They’re more likely to have cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, gallbladder disease, and sleep apnea. They’re also more likely to be at greater risk of being overweight.
Your child may also have behavioral and emotional issues related to their weight. They might have problems in school and with their friends and family.
A little bit of extra weight can put a lot of pressure on a teenager’s body. The risk of severe illness or death goes up as their weight increases. And the earlier your kid starts to gain the pounds, the more dangerous it can be.
Today, we’re going to dive into how you can help a teen struggling with their weight.
Here’s what you need to know:
Lead with Empathy
The first thing you need to do when approaching a teenager about their weight is to go in with empathy. You need to acknowledge that it’s not easy to change their eating habits or their weight. When it comes to obesity in teens, the most important thing you can do is listen. Give them the space they need to talk to you without judgment. If they want to talk about how they feel, listen to them. If they don’t, don’t push.
Lower the Barriers
The first thing you need to do is figure out what they like to eat. Figure out what they’re eating when they’re not around you. You might want to write it down so you know what you’re up against when you’re trying to help them.
In addition, try to lower the barriers between them and exercise. If they’re into video games, try to get them to set aside a little bit of time each day to play outside. It won’t happen overnight, but you should see a difference over time.
Don’t Punish Them For Being Overweight
Working with a teenager who is overweight isn’t about punishment. It’s about making sure that your kid can be healthy in the long term. If you ostracize, shame, or make fun of them, all you will do is make them feel worse about themselves. It won’t help them get healthier, and it probably won’t motivate them to keep going.
Help Them Set Realistic Goals
Setting goals for a teenager is tricky. You have to be realistic. Keep the big picture in mind and have them start small. If you focus on a too large goal, you might overwhelm them and make them give up.
Also, your kid might not be able to focus on one thing. They’re probably juggling several priorities in their life. That doesn’t mean they’re lazy or they don’t want to help themselves. It means they probably won’t be able to get down to business right away.
Keep in mind that goals are just that. They are goals. They aren’t permanent. If your child needs to change their diet, like losing a specific amount of weight, they’re going to have to work at it. Then, they’ll have to keep working at it after hitting their goal. The same goes for exercise.
Prioritize Their Health Above All
Your kid’s health should come before their vanity. If they want to tackle their weight, they need to do it correctly if they don’t know how to get help.
Also, if you’re serious about helping them, you have to make it a lifestyle change. It’s not about a crash diet where they lose 30 pounds in a month, then put it all back on over the holidays. Help them start a lifestyle where they can be healthy for the long term.
The Bottom Line to Helping A Teen with Weight Issues
In the end, it’s your job as a parent to guide your child. You can’t force them to change. If you’re not careful, though, you might be making things worse for them. Don’t force them to eat anything they don’t want to eat. Don’t make them exercise, either. It’s their choice.
You can, however, help them. It’s a marathon, not a sprint, and the most important thing you can do is set them up for success.
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