Wednesday, December 7, 2011

I'm One Mean Mom (Childhood Obesity and How to Deal)

You may have seen this story recently about a 5 year old child who was taken away from her parents due to her weight. It broke my heart; while this story originates from the UK, childhood obesity is a huge problem here in the states as well. Kids tip the scales more than ever before, and there are several factors that receive the blame: too much screen time, a busy drive-through lifestyle, and parents who are overcome with guilt and overcompensate by using food as rewards. It's scary and sad and it's not an easy problem to solve.

But should children be taken away from their parents because they are overweight? Often, parents of overweight children are overweight themselves, so in my non-clinical opinion, it seems that the problem is likely lack of awareness, knowledge, or access to resources that would help them live a healthier life. In my Pollyanna perspective, I'd like to think that if these parents knew how to be a healthier example and set boundaries with their kids regarding food and activity, the problem would go away.  

What are the solutions? Well, the first step is determining whether your child has a weight problem and what to do if he does. You can read about that here. I believe the next step is modeling and rewarding healthy behaviors. 

Of course, this comes from a mom who is currently battling a child who has wanted to eat candy 24/7 since Halloween. I'm having to remind myself several times a day that I am the grown-up and I set the boundaries of what we eat. It's a slippery slope, and a crowded one. Telling my child no makes me feel bad and mean, but letting him eat candy also feels bad and mean. What's a mom to do?

Here's what I'm doing: I'm embracing my bad and mean side. We're getting outside and walking more, I'm gritting my teeth and standing my ground when he looks at me with those puppy dog eyes, and I'm pulling in the reins. Sweets and desserts have their place, but not every day and not candy!  

And when that all fails, there's always time out. For me. :)

Get out there and get healthy. And hey, bring the kids while you're at it!


Jen said...

I saw that story and thought it was really sad as well. I'm not one to agree with the government stepping in and taking the child away and I do think education has a part in it. But like you said, adults need to start acting the part and embracing their "mean" side. Children need parents not friends.

Healthy Heather said...

Agreed! It is so hard to disappoint them and say no, but which is worse? Temporary pain that makes your child stronger and helps them set boundaries, or an over-indulged child who can't limit themselves?