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Be positive for your children

After a recent dinner, my 12-year-old daughter said, “Look at my belly, it's so fat!”

At this age, young children sometimes start comparing themselves to their school mates and notice the differences.

At home, we try and encourage health and wellness. We also have discussions about our bodies and how we accept our different compositions.

I recently read a study which stated that some children as young as the age of 3, worry about weight. When parents and caregivers are more concerned about weight than health, our youngsters are also likely to have the same concerns because they are learning and taking in everything that we do and say.

Sometimes, kids are treated negatively for being overweight. This can lead to loneliness, depression and low self-esteem. I can recall an experience in high school when my legs were fuller than most of the other girls in school.

They would say, “Look at her calves, she can't cross her legs like us.” I have never forgotten that and it took me a while to adjust my thinking to be okay with my body type.

That experience has led me to these five positive tips with my children:

1. Try not to mention dieting, and encourage them to eat foods that will help them avoid sickness and provide essential nutrients. Never deprive your child of food if he/she says he is hungry. Offer a healthy snack.

2. Try not to talk about your child's weight unless he/she brings it up. Instead, talk about healthy eating and exercise habits. Try to make it an ongoing conversation, even if your child is not overweight.

3. Let them join you in the kitchen while preparing your meals. It can be a bonding experience and can help boost their self-esteem and help them feel as if they are contributing to the family.

4. Create an environment where children learn to feel good about themselves. Ensure that family and friends are not criticising your child's weight, shape or size.

5. Introduce children to different hobbies, sports and community activities that they enjoy. Make sure that the activity is right for his/her age, size and physical development.

Fortunately, we come in many different shapes and sizes. This planet would be boring if we all looked the same. We should each enjoy our body — it's the only one we've been given. Take time and enjoy some good-for-you food, celebrate our children and B-Active For Life!

Betty Doyling is a certified fitness trainer and figure competitor with more than a decade of experience. Check her out on Facebook: www.facebook.com/B.ActiveForLife

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Published November 01, 2017 at 9:00 am (Updated November 01, 2017 at 7:43 am)

Be positive for your children

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