Sometimes it feels like it's easier to talk to a wall than to your teenage daughter! When it comes to tricky topics like her weight, you might not even know where to begin. But as her mother, you are responsible for showing her how to take care of herself. Evelyn Resh shares six proactive and loving ways to help you talk to your teen about food and exercise that will help build lifelong healthy habits.
Childhood obesity rates are at an all-time high. This is the first time in our history as a country that childhood and adolescent obesity has been highlighted as a public health crisis. Kids and teens in the United States are facing lifelong health problems because they're overeating and underexercising.
The onus of responsibility for helping kids eat well and stay slim is ultimately on their parents. We know changes in family habits can go a long way with kids. And, as they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. But, what if you already have a teen girl who is tipping the scale way above her recommended weight? The horse is out of the barn by this time, and parents, especially mothers, often feel completely hopeless in this situation. Mothers' responses can vacillate between trying to shame their girls into eating less and exercising more or becoming so prescriptive that they create a police state around food at home. The truth is, neither of these approaches is likely to be effective.
As a healthcare provider to teens, I suggest you take a proactive but behind-the-scenes approach to helping your daughter gain a better relationship with food and exercise. Parents need to keep in mind they are personae non grata for teens. Adolescent girls are in the process of becoming their own people, so the strategies that work for kids won't necessarily work for teens. Plus, being right "up in someone's business" about something they're having difficulty managing is annoying at any age. Teen girls need a kind-of MapQuest intervention from parents. Here are some examples of ways you can be helpful when you're daughter is desperately trying to beat the battle of the bulge.
First: Eat out less often