The numbers can’t be ignored: Roughly a third of children in the United States
are now overweight or obese. Reversing this trend starts at home.
Take a tactful approach with these encouraging openers.
>> “Should we go for a
bike ride or shoot hoops
In addition to helping your child
build muscle strength and torch
calories, physical activity boosts
self-esteem and academic performance.
But for kids, the greatest motivator is fun.
So instead of making exercise seem like, well,
exercise, have them choose a physical activity
they’ll enjoy—and get in on the action yourself.
>> “Help me map out your lunches.”
Older kids are a lot like toddlers when it comes
to food: They’re more likely to eat something
they’ve had a hand in preparing. Tap your teen’s
desire for independence by going one step further
and teaching her grown-up skills such as meal
planning and grocery shopping. First, discuss
what goes into a balanced lunch—lean protein,
whole grains, fresh produce, and low-fat dairy—
then shop for food together.
>> “What nights will you be
home for dinner this week?”
Kids who regularly eat meals with their
families tend to have healthier diets and better
grades than those who often eat on their own.
Try using a calendar app to track everyone’s
schedules and pinpoint times to get together.
If dinners aren’t doable, breakfasts and snacks
can work, too. When your child sees how much
you enjoy fruits and veggies, she’ll be inspired
to make better choices.
>> “How much time should
we spend in front of
screens each day?”
According to the National Institutes of
Health, kids are spending 5 to 7 hours in
front of TV, computer and smart device
screens every day. All that sitting
chips away at active play. Turn
screen time into a planned activity.
Have kids pick a few TV shows and
games each week. Set a daily limit
on online social activities.
>> “I’m glad I went for a
walk today. I feel great!”
What you say about your health and body has a
powerful trickle-down effect. When you meet a
healthy goal, stick to positive statements about
how you feel, not how you look. And if you
experience a setback, don’t beat yourself up. Your
kids will pick up on the message—even if it’s
subtle—and follow your good example.
>> “Let’s open a savings account
Does your child squander his allowance on
candy and sodas? Try portioning out his pay
in bigger bills (think fives instead of ones). The
larger denominations kids carry, the less likely
they are to make unhealthy impulse purchases,
according to a University of California study.
While you’re at it, set up a savings account for
him. When he sees his balance grow toward a
bigger goal—such as that video game he’s been
bugging you for—he’ll have even more reason to
skip the vending machine.