Do you have one child who just struggles with weight?
And wonder – why?
I’m raising them the same.
Why is this one child so different? And how can I help my child lose weight and stay healthy?
Where to Start When You Have One Overweight Child
As an Obesity Medicine certified physician, I recommend starting with a visit to you Doctor if you have one child who is excessively gaining weight. There are rare genetic diseases that show up in younger children as excessive weight gain, especially if the weight gain begins before the age of 2 years.
Additional symptoms that point towards a genetic cause include:
- Stunted or decreasing growth
- Mental delays
- Low muscle tone
- Abnormal facial features
Endocrine disorders, such as low thyroid levels, also need to be considered. Your Doctor will want to review growth charts and weight trends in your child. If your Doctor is concerned, lab work can be ordered to rule these diseases out. Although these diseases are certainly less likely than behavioral causes, they do need to be considered first.
When Not to Worry About One Overweight Child
Many kids will gain weight before growth spurts and around puberty. Then grow like a weed into that weight. Don’t worry about those kids. They will truly outgrow the weight gain. I see this most commonly in preteen boys who get a little pudgy and then shoot up. If you are concerned because the gain is excessive, dietary and lifestyle changes may still be helpful. This weight gain is temporary, though, and will pass.
Why You Really Have One Overweight Child
Most of the time, that little outlier child that struggles with weight does not have a genetic abnormality. He or she doesn’t have a thyroid issues. He or she is not just going through a growth spurt or you wouldn’t be so concerned.
And that’s why I’m here talking about weight gain in that one child today.
Because I have seen it over and over again in families that are my patients or my weight loss coaching clients. In fact, it was me. And, the cause I see most often is not what you think.
Let me guess: This is your sensitive child? The caregiver of the family? The one everyone can rely on? The overachiever to boot?
If your outlier child fits this description, read on. If not, shoot me an email – I would love to look at this further with you. Because, in my experience, this typically fits the mold.
Your one child is overweight for reasons that are not “medical” in origin. They are behavioral – and they stem from inappropriate relationships with food. These are children that are learning to “eat their emotions” from an early age. It seems to be more personality than anything – and I have treated women and girls with this same personality profile for years.
It’s time to make a dent in that number.
Why Does Your Sensitive, Caring, Overachieving, Perfectionist Child Struggle with Weight?
This child struggles with weight for 2 reasons: he or she (usually this child is a she) is turning to food to avoid negative emotions and to celebrate positive emotions.
He or she is using food as a coping skill – and that will continue for life unless addressed and changed. They are not physically hungry more often than your other children – they are emotionally hungry for food.
These are not children who cause a lot of trouble – they are usually the trouble solvers for your family. They are are easy ones. The ones you can rely on. They are the kids that read the emotional tone of their families, their classmates, and their environments.
And, rather than bother anyone with their own needs, their emotional tone is managed by food.
They overachieve to please others and prove their worth.
They take care of others to increase their self-value.
They love other people more than they love themselves.
And they meet their own needs with food.
They meet their own needs with food.
How to Help Your One Child Struggling with Weight
Step 1: Separate food from emotion
The first step to help your child change this weight struggle is simple: separate food from emotions. Food should not be the go to for his or her emotional needs. You can reinforce that by stopping food rewards, food treats, and food pick-me-ups. No more ice cream after a fall. No more pizza for good grades. Your child has to begin to feel emotions without food as a buffer.
Step 2: Learn to feel emotions without judgment
These are kids that want the best – for themselves and for others. They frequently have perfectionist and overachieving tendencies as well. And when things go awry or not as planned, they think something has gone wrong. Terribly wrong. And that their job is to do everything they can to fix it. That includes feeling any negative emotion.
Check out my post on https://doctormome.com/post/how-to-raise-children-that-dont-struggle-with-weight/ for more on how I deal with emotions for my own toddler.
Teach these children that negative emotions are a NORMAl part of life – in fact the human experience requires negative emotions in order to improve and grow. A negative emotion in themselves or others is fine – it means nothing more than that. It doesn’t mean they did something wrong, that they are failing, or that they are not good enough.
Step 3: Look at your relationship with your child
Ouch. That one hurt. But it’s true.
I’m not saying that you are causing your child to be overweight. That is not the case.
I do know from years of experience that parents see A LOT in these kids. They see their go-to child. They see the one who listens to them. And they see the one who can achieve.
Parents seem to rely on this child more than the others – because it is easy. They may push this child a little harder than the others because they see the potential. They do it from a place of love – but the child begins to associate their value with what they can do – for others, to achieve more, to become more valuable.
And they turn to food to decrease the insecurity underneath it all. When parents start to see the weight gain and point out that failure, this insecure, caregiver, people-pleaser, overachiever child now has the perfect scapegoat for self-loathing, insecurity, and failure.
They hide their snacks, eat after you go to bed, and grab on the go. That doesn’t stop when they become adults either. It’s complicated. Those of you who have dealt with this child know exactly what I’m talking about.
Meet the People-Pleasing, Care-giving, Overachieving Girl Behind It All
Here’s the truth: I was that girl. Still am really. I just recognize it now – and the power I give it in my life is gone. I don’t blame my parents at all. They were great and it was not their fault. It was all about my perception of myself.
I am a 3rd generation physician – and becoming a Doctor as the straight A student in my family of 5 kids was expected. My Dad worked long hours as a surgeon to provide for our family and I beame my Mom’s go-to girl. I helped with everything, heard all of her stories, and knew her aspirations for me.
And I took my value to be all of those things – not bad really. A kid could ask for a lot worse. But, I also turned to food for all of my perceived failures, fears, and insecurities. I wanted to be perfect. And striving for perfection owned me for years.
I became the Doctor who looked unhealthy because she was so overweight. And I still didn’t understand why. Until I learned the lessons I am teaching you today. They are truly life changing.
And I want that for your child that struggles with weight – it is something SO much bigger than the scale or skipping dessert.
If you have that child or are that Mom yourself, please consider joining me at Weight Loss for Modern American Moms. I can help you change this for your child or yourself.
Trust me, I’m a Doctor.
You can join my email list by CLICKING BELOW and get started this week for free!