2-18-19... What Are We Teaching Our Children?

A weekly newsletter was sent home with my first grader the other day.  It's always full of current events, what's happening this week, spelling words etc.

It also always has a cute quote from one of the students in first grade.  It's not necessarily from my child's class, just one of the first graders at the school.

Recently, the "cute quote" that was shared was something along the lines of, "I need to lose some weight."

As a fitness professional, this infuriates me.  Why in the world is a first grader concerned with their weight?  The reason why is two fold, and both lie with the parents. Let me be clear, before I go any further, this isn't an attack on my kids teacher or what she's teaching, it's also not an attack on parents, I know that most of us are doing the best we can.  The point of this piece is to really educate and shed light on a subject that is near to my heart.

Parents are the ones mostly in charge of feeding the kids.  I know that we are all doing the best that we can, but if a child is really overweight there has to be some intervention from the parents on what they are feeding the child.  I know kids are picky.  I know we are busy.  I know all of the usual responses.  Nobody is disputing that.  All I am saying is that you as a parent are responsible for what your child is eating, so let's really think about what we are feeding them.  Are we really setting them up to win for the rest of their life.  Again, I'm not trying to be harsh to you, I'm just trying to ask some tough questions.  Is there anything we can do to help our children win in the food category?  If you need help ask me for suggestions.  There are plenty of budget friendly, kid friendly menu items we can do to help them win.  If you feed them correctly excess body fat on a child should subside.

The second thing I want to address is a little more insidious, and that's the fact that this child actually said they need to lose weight.  There are many places they could've heard this from, other children, teachers, TV, parents, but what it does to them is three fold:

1) It sets themselves up to look in the mirror and think, "I'm not good enough."

2) It makes them overly concerned with body image and food consumption at a very early age.

3) It can set them up for an eating disorder.

As you can see all of these things are negative.  I'm not saying that it's avoidable, or that your child is doomed, but there are things we can do as parents to help mitigate this.

First thing we can do is not talk about our own weight or negative body image in front of our children.  I get it, we are unhappy with where we are at.  It's ok to feel that way, but don't mention it in front of your kids.  When your kids see you, they are always watching and modeling after you, so discussing a negative body image in front of them helps create a situation where they will look at themselves the same way.

Secondly, do not talk about this child's body at all.  Your kid may need to lose a little weight, but telling them that doesn't help the situation.  You can simply adjust what you're feeding them, enroll them in some kind of sport where they are moving, or just take them to the park and play outside a couple of times a week.  Kids need to move and eat well, that'll set them up for success in the long run.

Thirdly, don't mention foods that need to be avoided or "bad foods" etc.  This is an easy trap to fall into.  We can't eat ice cream because it's bad for us, or chocolate is bad for us etc. This can lead to eating disorders later in life.  The best way to approach this with kids is talking about sometimes food and all the times food.  Chocolate and ice cream are sometimes food.  It's perfectly acceptable to eat them sometimes and you're not a bad person if you do.  Broccoli, spinach, protein are all the time foods.  Those create healthy, high performing bodies.

Fourth, don't make comments about other people's bodies in front of your kids, even if it's someone on TV or a celebrity.  This creates a hyper focus on their own body.

Lastly, encourage your kids to go outside, focus on how great they feel, how food is used for fuel to make them perform in school and in sports.  Enroll your kids in some kind of physical activity.  Model healthy habits in your nutrition and exercise, and always encourage your kids to love themselves.

I hope this was helpful to all our parents out there.




Back Squat while resting complete sets of auxiliary work


100m Run

Push Press x max reps

2 min to complete each round

Rest 2 mins

4 Rounds

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