Parent of an Overweight Child? *Sensible* advice, for a change

{As a follow up to yesterday’s dieting Tiger Mom, sensible advice from Ellyn Satter, registered dietician and counselor specializing in eating competency.}

Children come in all sizes – some are big, some are small, some are sturdy or even chubby, others are slender. If your child’s weight is relatively high, even if it plots above the 95th or even the 97th percentile, it is likely to be normal if it follows along a particular percentile curve on the growth chart.

On the other hand, if your child’s weight percentiles are going up, there could be a problem. Some children carry the genes for fatness, and those genes let them get too fat – they don’t make them too fat.

Errors in feeding can make vulnerable children too fat. What are those errors?

1) Too much interference

2) Too little structure

3) Both together

Instead of trying to get your child to eat less and slim him down, support his normal pattern of development by doing an excellent job of feeding, parenting reliably and well, and letting your child grow up to get the body that is right for him:

  • Get started with family meals, if you aren’t having them already. Give sit-down snacks between times, but don’t let him have free access to food or beverages, except for water.
  • To provide support without interfering with feeding, maintain a division of responsibility in feeding. You manage the what, when and where of feeding and trust your child to do the how much and whether of eating from what you put on the table.
  • Throughout your child’s growing-up years, feed in a developmentally appropriate fashion.
  • To provide structure without interfering with activity, maintain a division of responsibility in activity:
  • You provide structure, safety and opportunities. Your child chooses how much and whether to move and the manner of moving

For more about raising children who eat as much as they need and get bodies that are right for them (and for research backing up this advice), see Ellyn Satter’s Your Child’s Weight: Helping Without Harming, Kelcy Press, 2005.

Also see www.EllynSatter.com to purchase books and to review other resources.

Copyright © 2012 by Ellyn Satter. Published at www.EllynSatter.com.

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