I know this is a weight loss forum but you guys are all so supportive, I hoped you would have some advice.
I have two kids, both of whom are making big school changes this year. My daughter is 14 and will be a freshman, my son is 11 and is entering middle school. I don't worry too much about my daughter. She is a healthy weight, has some complexion issues but is still pretty and is fairly well adjusted.
My son concerns me. I feel horrible even talking about this because I guess I feel like as a parent you shouldn't even see these things in your kids. He is heavier, maybe 20 -30 pounds overweight. Most years, the weight he would gain in the winter, he would lose in the summer, but not this year. He hasn't been playing outside as much as he no longer plays with some of the kids in the neighborhood.
He has always been a very picky eater and I will admit, I indulged him for so long that now I seem helpless to control it. As I have been eating healthier, my concern for his health and mental well being has gotten worse. He is a very sensitive kid. VERY sensitive. Not so much in front of other kids but cries about everything when at home. He has always looked to get attention in the wrong way. Arguing about nothing, starting fights for no reason and has developed some (this is hard to say) annoying personality traits.
I am very worried that as he enters middle school, he will become a target of the mean kids. If he starts to cry, it will just get worse. I was made fun of throughout middle school and I can't bear to have this happen to him.
He is starting football soon and I hope that will help him drop some of his weight. He has some big blackheads on his nose, that despite trying everything I could think of for the last year, refuse to go away. I have tried talking to him lately about us "losing our tummies together" by walking once I finally switch to a day shift next week but as sensitive as he is, I am walking a fine line saying anything.
I need to know how to help him fit in. I just can't imagine how hard the next seven years of school will be for him. Add to all of these challenges the fact that we don't have a lot of money in a school district that does. Makes me cry just thinking about it.
Sorry this was so long...but i need help! Please!
07-31-2010, 08:29 AM
I really don't think there's much you can do--directly--about his weight. And I would advocate for not even trying unless *he* brings it up. Otherwise, he'll just hear you telling him that's he's not good enough, attractive, whatever. I got this message from my parents and it never helps. Never. And for the rest of his life, he'll probably feel judged by you. Even if he does bring it up, I'd let him decide what to do about it and offer only the least amount of advice possible (i.e., ask him what he want to do, if anything; offer to take him to the dr. to get diet advice; etc.) Also, you might want to help him think more about being active and eating more fruits and veggies than restricting calories. At his age, that's probably a healthier approach (mentally, esp.) than calorie restriction.
Instead, you can help in other ways. Make it about his clothes--are they clean and tidy? are they comfortable? do they match what other boys are wearing? Is his hair trimmed? These are less-loaded issues.
And make sure that he knows that you love and accept him for who he is. Don't make his weight or his physical condition be a topic for family debate, but maybe do family things that involve being outside and being active. Oh! and don't let your daughter tease him about his weight. Home should be safe, not another venue for making him feel like crap about himself.
This is what I wish my parents had done for me. Instead my mother put me on diets starting when I was a girl. It has permanently affected our relationship, and not for the better. And it has permanently affected my self-image. Also not for the better.
I get that he's being a pill. Eleven doesn't look good on most boys. Most of them are whiney brats. Just remember that this too shall pass.
07-31-2010, 08:47 AM
I completely get what you are saying and that is why I was asking for advice. I have been trying to think of ways to make him care more about his appearance and his health without making any comments about it. I had hoped that by us doing some activities together, he would see it as getting healthier together and not as a personal attack. I have also recently learned that his biological father (whom he barely knows) had his leg amputated from diabetes at only 40 years old. His grandfather has also had this done. So, him developing diabetes because he refuses to consider most healthy foods, is a huge concern that I think needs to be addressed.
Just to give my input on our background. He does have male role models as my husband and I have been together since he was three months old and he spends at lot of time with my brother also. Both of them however are overweight and fairly sedentary so not role models in that arena.
Thanks and keep posting people, the more advice the better.
07-31-2010, 08:51 AM
He sounds like a whole lot of other boys his age right now....
football will probably take care of that weight if the program is a serious one and he sticks with it...it may take a few years...
where is his father?
edit ~ I see where the father is now...we posted at the same time....sorry about that.
winning the war
07-31-2010, 09:09 AM
He'll need a physical for football, right? Could the doctor talk to him about healthy habits? You could maybe talk to the doc and see if he could point him in the right direction, particularly if the doc is a man. It might be harder to hear for a boy coming from a female doctor. Also, you don't really have to bring up his weight at all. You could just drag him out for a walk with you for "quality time", which it would be anyway. 11 is an awkward age for boys, but he'll work through it. Good luck to you both!
07-31-2010, 09:10 AM
Football will help. I don't know about Middle Schools, but High Schools have weight rooms and football players go to the weight room throughout the summer to work out in prep for football. You can call the office and maybe get in touch with the coach and see if and when that's available. (Assuming this is a school program and not a PAL or Pop Warner, etc. program.)
Anything the coach says about exercise (being good for football) will carry much more emphasis that what you can say. Perhaps you can talk to the coach and see if he can recommend an exercise program to your son.
Find a football program online, print it out and leave it lying around.
Invite your son & daughter to join you on a walk - in the neighborhood or on a trail. Make the things you do on the weekend involve walking and movement.
Find out who some of the other kids are on the team and see if they can workout together - at someone's home, at the park. They can do situps, pushups, running and a lot of warmup exercises together without equipment.
Buy fresh fruits and vegetables and have a selection ready-to-eat. Wash and prep them and have them in single-serving containers in the fridge so they're as easy to grab as the bad snacks that you aren't buying any more.
Talk to your son about how important hydration is for sports. Before practices start he needs to make sure he's drinking plenty of water.
Make it all be about health and preparation for sports, not dieting and being overweight.
My son played football from 2nd grade through High School, when he also wrestled. Sports made an incredible difference, not only in being muscular and fit, but it also interested him in health, exercise and nutrition for the long run.
07-31-2010, 09:17 AM
Oh, I meant to include - how about having a doctor (perhaps when he goes in for his sports physical) look at his blackheads and see what he/she can do for them?
07-31-2010, 09:26 AM
Hi father, to answer the earlier question, lives a couple hours away but hasn't seen him in several years. He recently agreed to let my husband adopt him but we haven't had the money to do so yet. My son is very happy about that!
As soon as I heard about his dad, I made a doctor's appointment for him so he will be going in a few weeks. I will bring up those matters to the doctor as quietly as I can.
I am very happy to hear so many of you comment that this is a rough age. I honestly feel like I have royally screwed up as a parent a lot of the time and knowing that all kids have issues makes me somehow feel better.
07-31-2010, 11:27 AM
Make sure that the doctor will talk to him about diabetes, letting him know that diet is an effective way to control diabetes. By taking care of himself now he may never experience diabetes, but he should know that it often runs in families. Hopefully you have a doctor who will be sensitive to your sons needs, not scaring him but giving him the facts.
07-31-2010, 11:38 AM
re the blackheads....here's how to get rid of them.
I know it sounds "weird" to fight with oil, but it works...
mix some olive oil and castor oil together..maybe 75% castor oil and 25% olive oil. have him rub it in well. Run water to get it VERY hot and put the hot water on a wash cloth and the put the hot cloth on his face to steam and keep it there till it cools, then more hot water on the cloth and repeat the steaming, then wipe all the oil off. It is great also for acne. Following with some tea tree oil is also a great "spot treatment". After a few days, those blackheads should float right out.
For more info just google OCM or oil cleaning method. It works.
Another thing...go to you tube and google Philip McCluskey and "just happen" to be looking at his videos when your son is around. He's a young kid (well, young to me) who has lost tons of weight and is in great shape. his site is lovingraw.com He may be an inspiration without you pushing it on your son. You could say something like "This guy is really interesting...come look at this... I might try some of his ideas" That way it would sound like you were interested for yourself and not him.
07-31-2010, 11:39 AM
As soon as I heard about his dad, I made a doctor's appointment for him so he will be going in a few weeks. I will bring up those matters to the doctor as quietly as I can.
My oldest son was concerned about his weight when he was a young teenager. He was very tall and slim, but was worried that he was getting too fat and was almost obsessed with it. I was worried that he was heading towards anorexia, so I called the doc before my son's appointment and asked him to talk to my son about his weight.
So that's what I suggest.....calling ahead of time and giving the doc the heads-up that you would like him to bring up this subject with your child. If he's a pediatrician, he will (hopefully!) be skilled in communicating with children and will know just how to approach this topic with your son.
I know where you are coming from. My youngest went through many chubby years from about age 10 to 17 or so. It was difficult. I didn't want to make him feel bad, but I also didn't want him to suffer from being unhealthy.
07-31-2010, 12:09 PM
I think your son sounds pretty normal for an 11 year old boy. I think his anxiety will decrease, if you can reduce yours.
I'm not dismissing your concerns, I think the doctor really is a potential source of insight and information, but it's going to be hard to ask him some of these questions with your son in the room. I would suggest asking the doctor if you can speak to him a few minutes before your sons appointment. Write down your questions before you go to the appointment, if the doctor won't give you some time alone with him, at least you can hand him the paper, so you don't have to talk about it all in front of your son.
I was a fat kid, and I hated when my mom talked to doctors about me. It was mortifying and demeaning. I felt like I was their puppet. Also from a developmental point of view, children often become what they're told they are (or who they hear you telling other people they are). Talking about how sensitive your child is, can actually make him more so. It can become a prophecy, you're helping him fufill.
Look for ways to praise and give attention to braveness and independence.
If you do need to focus on weight, focus on maintaining his current weight, rather than losing (unless he's at a weight that is too high for an adult to maintain). Ask to have your doctor run a blood sugar test for diabetes. It's not incredibly likely that your son has diabetes, but it's showing up in younger and younger kids, so with the family history it's a good idea to check. If he's diabetic or prediabetic, your insurance may cover some classes with a dietitian or diabetic educator (diabetic educators are often better informed on diets for all age groups. With your son's family history, it's a darned shame that most insurances won't cover the cost of this education unless his blood sugar results are in the (pre)diabetic range. If you can afford it (check to see if your insurance covers it), I'd consider asking your doctor for a referral to a pediatric dietitian or diabetic educator. If your insurance doesn't cover it, and you can't afford it on your own, call the local health department. They often have free or reduced fee classes. The United Way in your area would also be able to tell you if there are other services you'd find helpful.
I think your son is not only normal, he's probably more typical than not. It's not that I think he needs a psychologist, as much as I think the whole family could use a wider support system. If you can't see it as a "normal" thing, it probably would be better not to go. But, if you can all look at it as just as normal as having a doctor or a tutor, I think counseling can help everyone. It's nice to have an objective ear to talk to, rather than someone caught up in your life with you (people who have a vested interest in your choices and behavior).
It seems from your post, that you may have more anxiety than he does. And that's the roughest for kids to see. No matter how well you think you hide it, your child can read your anxiety, and it will feed his (if Mom is worried, there must be something to worry about).
Your anxiety over your ouwn experiences in school can make him anxious - or more anxious than he otherwise would be. I'm wondering from your description, whether he is as sensitive in school as he is at home (I'd ask teachers who had him in the past, how he interacts with other children). Does he have a friend or too or is he a loner?
He may not be as prone to tears as you think he is. He may be what you call sensitive at home, because it's working for him. He gets your attention (children will do what works) because of your own sensitivity. It's how he's learned that folks communicate (at least at home). If he realizes that this doesn't work, and works against him at school, he may be a whole lot braver in school than at home (I was). I cried at home at almost everything - of course so did my mother. But in school, I learned early that showing fear gets you picked on. I coped by being a bit of the class clown (when I could do it so that the teacher didn't catch me. I'm not recommending this, by the way).
07-31-2010, 01:59 PM
Thanks everyone! I will try the black head treatment you suggested.
I know that I, by nature, am an anxious person. I don't see anything wrong with counseling as I have been myself on several occasions. I have spoken to his teachers about him in the past. He has never seemed to have any close friends at school and I have asked how he was doing socially. The teachers didn't notice any problems but did say that he was quite sensitive. I do not think that he cries in front of others.
I will try to quit worrying so much but I can't guarentee anything.
07-31-2010, 10:45 PM
You've gotten a lot of good advice, so I'll just let you know that sometimes boys just outgrow this difficult stage without too much parental 'help'. My oldest, who we homeschooled and hadn't had much for physical education, besides bike riding, decided to dual-enrol as a junior and went out for football. He was 5'10" and 260 pounds at the time. All the coaches thought he'd give up by the end of the 1st week, but none of them said anything to him-they just let him keep on trying. And they kept on encouraging, as did we. He's now 6' and 195 pounds and heading off to college with a partial football scholarship. He learned by watching me start to eat healthier and by seeing the results of his football conditioning. His teammates even voted him "Most improved player" on the team last year! Everyone saw his progress and let him know that he was doing a good job.
Just make sure that whatever you see him doing right, you let him know and that his coaches also do the same. Negativity doesn't help, but we found out that encouragement and setting a good example does:D
08-02-2010, 01:58 PM
Admittedly, I'm not a parent, but my husband and I work with middle school kids, and, as weird as they are, I love them.
My best advice would be to start spending lots of time with him. Make it a priority to explore things that he likes together- whether that be a movie, or a favorite activity, or TV show, or, just something that gets the two of you (or him and your husband, or the three of you) spending time together. Getting individual attention will most likely help with his desire to seek attention in negative ways, and will help strengthen your relationship with him. Don't make it about an agenda, or trying to talk to him about his weight, or anything like that. Simply put, get to know him, hang out with him, and enjoy spending time with him. Children that feel that their parents are genuinely interested in them as people, their likes, dislikes, interests, etc., are much better equipped to handle the pressures and self esteem challenges that come from entering middle school.
You say that he's a picky eater- what does he like? Find new recipes for foods that he already enjoys, and new ways to make similar dishes with healthy ingredients (cauliflower au gratin anyone? that stuff is seriously delicious) And, see if you can get him involved. Ask him for input on what he wants for dinner, encourage him to cook with you. A family we know has had a lot of success with what they call Battle Royale. Mom and son cook a meal once a week and dad and daughter cook a meal once a week and they compete to see who can come up with the better dish. A lot of times they'll feature a particular ingredient that the kids will tolerate, but dont particularly like, like mushrooms. The kids have fun with it, and it helps them learn some basic cooking skills, and keeps them adventurous.
But overall, please, try not to worry so much. Kids pick up on it, and I know that as a child, realizing that mom thought I was fat was worse than me thinking I was fat. Try to avoid singling him out, instead of working on losing your tummies together, say that the whole family is going to start walking at night before dinner, or after dinner, or whenever. Make sure your son sees that you are trying to get the entire family healthy, including sister and hubby. It will come across more as a lifestyle change than a weightloss effort.
Good luck! He's going into a very interesting phase- at times you'll wonder who kidnapped your child, but, he's got loving and supportive parents, and that will count more than anything else.
Thighs Be Gone
08-02-2010, 02:09 PM
He is most likely going to "shoot up" soon since he is already 11. I know it must be hard as a mom. The football season will definitely help him--practices can be frequent and taxing for any kid. If you pack his lunch, try to do your best controlling his calories without him knowing. The same goes for his breakfasts and dinners. Keep the crap out of the house.
I think the poster above makes some excellent points on getting really connected with your son. If your very worst fears come true and he is picked on, you can definitely be the "soft spot" for your son to land on--even if he outwardly doesn't show it, he will appreciate knowing he is accepted somewhere.
I have also read that kids don't necessarily NEED tons of friends--one good one will suffice. Does he have that person? If not, maybe if he shows interest in another kid once the new school starts you could facilitate that friendship for him.
Would he enjoy paintballing or indoor rock climbing? Would your hubby take up cycling with him? Maybe you could look for other activities for him to indulge in that would be enjoyable. Football season is only a few months.
Good for you to be on top of this. In the end, you will know you did everything you could come what may.