The prevalence of obesity in children is increasing at an alarming rate. In 2016, over 41 million children below the age of 5 were overweight, according to a report by World the Health Organization. Obesity can make its way into adulthood and could lead to other ailments, such as diabetes and heart problems. Being overweight can also lead to psychological issues, such as low self-esteem and self-confidence, as well as body image disturbances.
With education, support and gentle confrontation, self-destructive behavior or body shaming can be curbed, says Linda Charnes, a leading psychotherapist in NYC. If you have been worried that your child might be experiencing problems with self-image, here’s what can help.
Consult a Therapist
Children are known to lose and gain weight quite easily. Many are also consistently overweight and are unable to be mindful about eating. As they start going to school, there are chances of being bullied or teased about being overweight. This can lead to depression, loneliness and self-hatred. A good psychotherapist can help them overcome such psychological impact. Behavioral or cognitive approaches are combined with psychodynamic model to change the child’s relationship with food forever.
Accept Them Wholeheartedly
Children dealing with shame and anxiety due to their weight need extra compassion. As a parent, let them know that they are beautiful and are loved unconditionally. By no means are they ugly and their weight will never come in the way of success in life. There is nothing wrong with being heavier than other children and they must embrace themselves too. Make sure no one is calling them rude nicknames or ignoring them anywhere.
Children have a tendency to eat when they are hungry and stop when they are satiated. Smart meal planning and good eating habits to control cravings can go a long way, according to an article on Parents Network. Most psychotherapists approve of this approach for children dealing with self-loathing and distress. Instead of candy and sweetened foods, make sure to include fresh fruits and vegetables in their diet.
Involve them More
Be it household chores or a simple decision making in the family, keep them involved. This will render a sense of belongingness and importance. Listen to them carefully and praise them for their ideas. This can go a long way to boost confidence and keep them in a positive state of mind.
Knowing that being overweight does not make you less in any way can uplift one’s self-esteem. And, don’t hesitate to seek therapy to ensure long lasting results.