11 year old & her parents asking/pressuring me to help her lose weight. I'm very uncomfortable

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Replies

  • everher
    everher Posts: 909 Member
    edited July 2017
    kshama2001 wrote: »
    Ya, I threw away the lunch my mother made and bought ice cream sandwiches.

    I did something similar and even if they take away the lunch money she has access to I wonder if she gets an allowance. I did and at her age I was spending mine on snacks every chance I got. I agree that snacking at school is likely the cause of her weight gain if she has access to that much money.

    I will also say her parents sound a bit difficult and I wouldn't want to be in your position, OP.

    The poor child probably does need someone to teach her about nutrition if she's having weight issues, but that really should be up to them.
  • ilovelucy711
    ilovelucy711 Posts: 381 Member
    Maybe just exercise with her? Don't be like hey let's exercise but maybe let's ride bikes or go on a nature walk. Get her active without her realizing she's exercising.
  • TwinkieDong
    TwinkieDong Posts: 1,564 Member
    Maybe just exercise with her? Don't be like hey let's exercise but maybe let's ride bikes or go on a nature walk. Get her active without her realizing she's exercising.

    something positive! Humanity at its finest!!

  • bribucks
    bribucks Posts: 431 Member
    To echo everyone else, a slippery slope!

    I don't think there's a harm in teaching her about healthy eating if she's interested but it shouldn't be shoved down her throat, and certainly not at the parents' request!

    If you are comfortable, maybe talk to her about it casually when she has already brought it up. Everyone here knows that it's calories in, calories out, but there is no need for an 11yo to be that in depth, and quite frankly, I could see that leading to an obsession/ED in such a young girl. So, casually focus on things like how you already said, eating both fruits and veggies. And that snacks and desserts are ok to have every once and a while, but it's not healthy to eat too much sugar all the time. I don't think it really needs to go beyond that, especially given your role as literally just a babysitter, not a nutritionist!!

    It would also be good to get Kayla's input here - when she brings up get weight to you, try to get a feel for why she is so bummed. Does she feel judged and ridiculed? Always, always, remind her that she is beautiful no matter what, that her body is still growing and changing and everyone has those times where they don't feel comfortable in their own skin! If she expressed interest in being skinnier, try to find out why - is it purely for looks? For self esteem? Or for health? Remind her that it doesn't really matter what she looks like, it's just health that's important!

    Tell the parents politely, that you would be happy to talk to "Kayla" about healthy habits, but it is going to be on her own terms and only when it comes up naturally, that you refuse to lecture her because that will only be damaging to a young girl and could easily backfire into worse habits. Politely remind them that you are not a nutritionist and are not qualified to give medical advice. Ask them if they've consulted a doctor, and recommend that they do so.
  • bribucks
    bribucks Posts: 431 Member
    Came back to add - there are lots of good resources, activities, and even games geared toward kids on this site. https://www.choosemyplate.gov/kids

    Also, kids tend to mirror their parents whether they want to or not. Her parents might look fit & average weight - but so they have oreos in the house? Chips? Sugary cereal? Again, we all know that it's CICO and that these items aren't inherently bad, but it's really tough for a kid to have restraint, especially if she sees her parents eating those same things. If you decide to stay at this job, be sure to make that point to the parents. Chances are that if they put in extra effort to eat healthy, she will follow.
  • dkefover
    dkefover Posts: 1 Member
    I think you're in a great position to help a child -- on your terms. You're a role model to this little girl, if they replace you with a camp or someone else, you might actually end up hurting Kayla even more than if you just did it. I think you should tell them how you are going to help her, i.e. these are healthy choices, moderation is key, let's go for more walks/active time, and not be a harsh parent figure for her. I bet she will respond wonderfully. Teach her how to fish and she'll be able to feed herself for a lifetime. She just needs to be educated so that she doesn't struggle with her weight the rest of her life. Instill positive, healthy eating habits, and help a girl reach her full potential and happiness.
  • pita7317
    pita7317 Posts: 1,437 Member
    I will try to brief,but I was in the same position as a new stepmom decades ago. Never a fix to the problem situation, but was very tough for the youngest. Age 5-12, always heavier than all the other kids his age.
    Not saying it was best to let him to figure it out but actually it was, somewhat.
    Just like people posting about their spouses do not support their weight loss efforts.
    He is still big, but happy. He loves to cook. Self esteem over the top. Owns his own business. So ?
    To each their own ? Unfair for these parents to put this on your plate.

  • 4legsRbetterthan2
    4legsRbetterthan2 Posts: 19,506 MFP Moderator
    I think you are wise to be cautious here. I agree with the previoys suggestion of trying to get the parents to seek advice from a pediatrician, and offering to go along too. I think you could add alot to that meeting since it sounds like you are quite familiar with kaylas likes/dislikes, and already nutritionally conscious. I am NO expert, but since it sounds like she is overweight, but not morbidly obease or anything, at her age I think they usually advise you to try to increase activity, make good food choices, and attemt to help them maintain their weight through puberty so they grow into it as apposed to attempting to actually lose weight.

    I am a bit confused about one thing though. It sounds like her parents already indentified her eating in secret or at school as part of the problem, how have they not linked that to her having that huge snack fund? That is absolutely something that needs to be addressed. It is unfair to expect you to be able to produce results if they aren't going to take care of that problem.
  • LynnJ9
    LynnJ9 Posts: 414 Member
    loneda wrote: »
    I don't really see anything wrong with it. Kayla has already confided in you that she is unhappy with her body and sees you as a role model. As a parent myself, I can completely see how a tween would feel more comfortable confiding in you, and the parents may see that this is an area you know more about than they do.

    I would totally disagree with you doing this behind her parents' back, but that is not the issue here.

    I would insist that she go to the pediatrician and a nutritionist/dietician and that she get a plan from them. That may help with the cake/healthy calories issue. But I think it is fine for you to help implement it for her, especially since you are the one preparing most of her meals.

    I agree, you don't have to tell her to go on a fad diet, or even a diet at all. But speaking to her about portion control, making healthy choices that will fill her up without consuming huge amounts of calories. Even talking to her about the benefits in her complexion when rating healthy are all positive things that will serve her well throughout her life.
    You aren't telling her she is fat, she is telling you she knows she is overweight. Her self esteem is being affected by her weight. Middle school is the worst time for girls, and your suppoting her to become the person she wants would be a great thing for her.
    By helping her learn to eat healthy, you may be keeping her from trying crazy diets, or from developing eating disorders.
    She obviously loves you and respects you. She has even reached out and asked you to help her learn portion control by asking about weighing her food. What a great opportunity to help a young lady learn she can achieve what she wants through mature and wise choices.
  • amyinthetardis1231
    amyinthetardis1231 Posts: 571 Member
    I agree with those recommending directing parents to talk to her pediatrician (understanding the parents may not listen). Nothing is simple around puberty. I was an extremely active, slim child before puberty. I was dancing 15 hours a week (ballet, serious training) when I hit puberty, and I still gained 20 lb in a year. I was working my *kitten* off, but I gained weight very quickly and it took a little while to level off and get back to a healthy, athletic build. Activity is good and important, but may not be the only factor to consider.

    Someone also commented above that this kid will need a therapist, and I agree. I am a therapist, and the clients i work with are the ones whose parents made nasty comments about their weight at a young age, made them feel like they'd never be good enough, and put them down. The ones in the best emotional shape are the ones who had someone who could be a positive influence in some way. The ones who struggle the most are the ones who had no one outside of their parents to teach them how to view themselves. Kayla's parents put you in a difficult position, and I don't blame you for being hesitant, but if you can be in any way a positive, supportive, caring influence in this child's life? You could be helping her more than you know.
  • BWA468
    BWA468 Posts: 100 Member
    I was quite chunky as a tween (and ever since!) and all my family used to go on about my weight and I already knew I was fat :( My mum used to force me to run and I have hated it ever since. Maybe speak to Kayla cause I think seeing a dietician would make her feel worse. It would have for me and would have been embarressing if kids at school found out. I wish I would have known more about portion control at her age. I ate reasonably well but ate too much of it. I tried restricting foods and all sorts of stupid things, keeping all this to myself because my weight was something I felt so bad about. All this made my weight worse as I got older let alone my self esteem. She doesnt need to calorie count but maybe explain why people lose weight/how it works. Say something like you burn more than you eat (but explain the HEALTHY way of doing that) and thats how you lose weight. Kids arent stupid and having a good base of knowledge now will help her in the long run. You could work out her calories yourself without going into that part of it with her (and make her lunches/dinners accordingly and allow extra for snacks) then maybe do some FUN exercise to burn off the extra. Dont say we are going to exercise. Just say lets do something fun! This way you are helping her out, she is going to love you for understanding her and it might hopefully help her self esteem and not research the cr*p on the internet. Also explain that it sucks to be her age with puberty etc and every girl feels inadequate even if they dont act like they are.

    This is all if there are no medical reasons though :)
  • cnbbnc
    cnbbnc Posts: 1,265 Member
    I only have a second but these are my quick thoughts. It sounds like this girl really wants some help. Yes...her parents should be doing it, but I think you can do some good for her simply by getting her active. Something sporty to play together. Walks. Bikes. Skating. Whatever will get her active while having fun. I also think you can help her with food choices without bringing calories and scales into it at all. Talk about what foods she enjoys that aren't junk and picking more of those daily? She seems to need someone to talk to in general as well. Sometimes kids relate better to someone who isn't a parental figure. More of a big sister/mentor...

    I dunno. I think this is something you could definitely try to do in a simple way.
  • goldthistime
    goldthistime Posts: 3,214 Member
    Another vote for just getting her active. I had a babysitter for my kids one summer who was a ball of energy, my two daughters were visibly slimmer and fitter at the end of the summer.