Although this should never be done, fat children or children who weigh a lot often become targets of ridicule in groups. Even if there is no malicious intent, they often become the butt of light jokes and are called ‘pig’, ‘fat’, or ‘fat’ in the name of nicknames, which often causes emotional distress. Parents make many efforts to change their child’s eating habits, but they sometimes feel helpless and frustrated because the child’s eating habits are not easily changed.
The first thing to do in this case is to accurately draw the child’s height and weight on a growth chart and judge it. In reality, there are quite a few children who are a bit chubby, but contrary to what their parents think, they are in the normal category. Therefore, if you think your child is obese, it is necessary to first clearly determine whether or not the child is truly obese.
In reality, it is very difficult to restrict food or put a growing child on a diet. Enjoying the food you want is one of the happinesses that humans enjoy. Even adults find it difficult to control their eating. Putting a growing child on a diet can be frustrating and emotionally difficult. Forcing a child to eat poorly can cause emotional problems. The same goes for children who eat a lot. We must not forget that restricting what you eat may reduce your calorie intake slightly, but it can also cause great emotional difficulties.
Rather than dieting, it is more realistic to consume healthy foods slowly and evenly while increasing the amount of exercise or changing exercise habits. However, forcing a child to change something may actually be considered unfair from the child’s perspective. The entire family needs to make a joint effort to change their lifestyle and eating and exercise habits.
When your child is fat, there are certain things parents should avoid doing. First, do not praise your child excessively for eating well. Parents unconsciously tend to feel satisfied when their children eat well. However, if you praise and like your child every time he eats well, he may ignore the signals his body is sending and eat more to please his parents.
Second, there is no complete ban on junk food. Most children love hamburgers, French fries, and ice cream sold at fast food restaurants. On the other hand, parents do not allow their children to eat these foods out of concern for their bodies. However, if junk food or sweets are completely banned, children may quickly consume excessive amounts of these foods when their parents are not looking or when they are not present. You shouldn’t allow your child to eat too many of these foods, but sometimes it’s necessary to give your child limited permission to avoid resenting them.
Third, do not use food as a reward. There are words that parents often use without even realizing it. “If you listen to Mom, I’ll buy you ice cream.” “If you stay quiet, I’ll go out and dad will buy you a hamburger.” You should not do this because it means exchanging the social standards, norms, and emotional values that a child must adhere to for sweet or junk food. Children who grow up in this way directly associate emotional reactions such as joy, sadness, and social norms that they must adhere to with eating sweet foods.
Fourth, avoid snacking or snacking while watching something. This is a basic eating rule that should be followed in any family, regardless of whether the child is obese or overweight.
Fifth, when someone makes fun of your child’s weight, you should never ignore it or accept it. People easily say things like “pig” and “fat” without thinking about it. However, people who are actually worried about being fat are deeply hurt by even passing comments. As children grow older, problems with their physical self-image also arise. A child may not be able to respond appropriately to teasing like this because he or she is still a child or is already very withdrawn. In these cases, it is necessary for parents to step in and actively help.
Sixth, do not waste time eating when you are bored. A child who relieves boredom by eating feels like he needs to eat something every time he has time or is doing nothing. This can be directly related to obesity, so be careful.
Changing the size of the child’s food bowl or bowl to a slightly smaller one without the child noticing, gradually reducing the amount of fat and sugar when cooking, or having the child drink water once a day from the juice they consume are surprisingly met with little resistance by the child. It is very helpful in gradually losing weight.
Oh Eun-young, psychiatry specialist and director of Oh Eun-young Pediatric and Adolescent Clinic
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