There is no lie in the saying that parenting is the hardest job you will ever do. Although there are tremendous joys and blessings in becoming a parent, there are just as many challenges and worries. Sometimes children are affected by varying parenting styles in ways that are not immediately apparent.
With obesity on the rise, one area of great concern is how parenting may affect a child’s weight. The good news is it’s never too late to become aware of what is affecting your child and to make changes for the better.
Providing Food as a Reward
One parenting habit that may be adversely affecting your child’s weight is using food as a type of reward. This is a particular one to be aware of. For one thing, children might start to believe that food is contingent on behavior. For another thing, this type of reward based parenting typically consists of heavily laden sugary or fatty snacks, which will cause weight gain.
Providing Food to Deal with Emotions
Another parenting faux pas is providing food to children as a way to deal with emotions. This can be anything from hurt feelings to anger to feeling socially left out. When your child learns to use food in an unhealthy manner to resolve upset feelings, weight can become an issue. Helping your child identify their emotions and deal with upset by utilizing physical activity or by talking about it are a healthier long term solutions.
Leading by Example
Another way that parenting can affect your child’s weight is when you lead by example. For example, if you are constantly focusing on your own weight or food issues, this is what your children will learn to focus on. If you reach for unhealthy snacks or avoid vegetables, the chances of your child doing the same will increase greatly. On the other hand, if you take your child grocery shopping and buy fresh produce and participate with your child in regular physical activity, you are setting a great example. Your child will learn to create healthy habits, and you will provide your child with the appropriate resources for maintaining a healthy weight.
Performance and Self Esteem
Another parenting style to be aware of that can affect your child’s weight is putting undo pressure on your child to perform a certain way. This can mean expecting perfect grades or for your child to be great at playing a sport or a musical instrument, etc. If your child fails to perform to standards that they can’t meet, their self esteem can suffer and food can become a source of comfort.
The bottom line is, yes, your parenting can affect your child’s weight. That doesn’t mean it has to be negative. You have opportunities each day to try new things and learn new parenting styles, including ones that will positively affect your child’s weight.