Advice on Keeping Children Healthy and Active

Hi everyone! I need your help...I am very close to my niece. She is in 6th grade and has low self esteem which is mainly because she is about 10-15 pounds over weight. She is at that age, where everything is such an embarrassment. I can relate. I was right there with her when I was her age. Being over weight and my glorious passion for food is something that I have ALWAYS struggled with. Can someone out of there give me some tips on ways to help her out? I hate to see her suffer and be embarrassed all the time like I was. Tonight I am going to go for a walk with her...and Saturday I am going to take her for a bike ride. Any other thoughts? Rewards? Food log? Suggestions? I know she is probably too young to "diet" but she has mentioned she wants a change and I want to help her...and let her know it will help me in the process. Just so you know, Her family is supportive and makes healthy meals and exercises regularly. I believe a lot of times she just snacks out of boredom (like a lot of us!) and we are just "naturally bigger folks".....Thanks in advance for all of the positive feedback. Please nothing negative...I don't have time for that in my life :) Best wishes to you all!


  • bushidowoman
    bushidowoman Posts: 1,599 Member
    Spend a lot of time with her. Be a good role model.
    Unfortunately, she doesn't live with you, so it's not like you can have much say over what her parent(s) feed her or how much activity she gets. But you can spend time doing active things with her. When you eat together, you can model healthy choices.

    Aside from that, take an interest in her overall--ask about her hobbies, her school life, her social life. Be her sounding board. And offer positive encouragement and sound advice when she asks for it.

    Oh, I see her family is already supportive of a healthy lifestyle. That is good. So be a reinforcement.
  • wesmith2
    wesmith2 Posts: 37 Member
    thanks for the advice :)
  • Crochetluvr
    Crochetluvr Posts: 3,143 Member
    A hobby that she can do when she is bored. I crochet and buy beads and make jewelry. Even things like t-shirt decorating. Lots of hobby crafts out there that she can do. See what she is interested in. When she exercises, you can buy her something she can use for a hobby.
  • Read my blog, I have written a few things on this..Also got to a sight called, or google in health4life..these two things have changed mine and my kids lifestyle..If you go to the zamzee blog sight there is an article on there with our story on there can also pm..I have 3 daughters, 8,9, and 12..
  • wesmith2
    wesmith2 Posts: 37 Member
    thank you all so much! every bit of the advice was helpful!!! :)
  • jynxxxed
    jynxxxed Posts: 1,010 Member
    Are there any neighbor kids you could introduce her to? Playing outside more will do her a world of good! Exercising without feeling like exercising.
  • dsjohndrow
    dsjohndrow Posts: 1,821 Member
    Do a sport with her 3 days a week for 50 minutes. It can be anything you like from riding bikes to walking or running, playing catch or going to the school yard for a little basket ball. Then follow it up with a healthy meal.
  • DaveRCF
    DaveRCF Posts: 266
    This is a really tough one becuase you want your niece to have a good relationship with food. I think that the way to go is to gently encourage healthier eating choices if there is some room for improvement. Explain that soda isn't a great choice and that includes the stuff that is made to sound healthy ("contains REAL FRUIT JUICE"). Explain that having a cookie and a piece of fruit as a snack is better than three cookies and no fruit. Explain that sweets are a treat and that if you have them all the time they are no longer special and no longer a treat.

    It is great that you want to help your niece. Leading by example and taking advantage of those "teachable moments" is a great way to go.

    One thing though. I suspect that like most kids she is plenty active enough yet she still has some extra pounds which leads me to believe that better eating choices will do her more good than getting even more active.
  • jenbk2
    jenbk2 Posts: 623 Member
    I would check into a nutritionist in your area for kids. In our area we have nutrition classes where they can also make friends with similar issues. Also if she snacks maybe have her mother/father have cut up carrots or celery instead of the chips...etc. Unfortunately at her age there is also alot of sneak eating.
  • omma_to_3
    omma_to_3 Posts: 3,265 Member
    See if her school has this program. It's excellent!

    Do you live close enough to take her to do things? How about Geocaching? Biking? Running? I am running with my kids right now (ages 8 and 9 - the 2 year old is in the jogging stroller). We also bike. My daughter is in Girls on the Run. They also swim.
  • Laurej
    Laurej Posts: 227
    Are there any neighbor kids you could introduce her to? Playing outside more will do her a world of good! Exercising without feeling like exercising.

    ^ this

    Play is a great reward in itself. You guys can also make fun games, like chase day, or fast hide and seek day.... geo cache hike day.. etc... for longer things like long bike rides, do things like map where we can go. hang a map of your city on the wall and pick places that you can ride to, put a push pin at each new destination :)

    making exercise not feel like work, but instead an enjoyable activity, will teach her the joys of exercising and soon she'll love it with a passion.

    all the best you're doing a wonderful thing :)
  • omma_to_3
    omma_to_3 Posts: 3,265 Member
    Does she have a smart phone? A 6th grader would probably find this app lots of fun. I do think there is some very mild language in it - not something I'd let my 9 year old hear, but at 12? Probably. You could do it with walking or running and your music plays in the background.
  • Vansy
    Vansy Posts: 419 Member
    Just get her out of the house more, playing outside with friends or you or a pet or something. That's the main thing about keeping a healthy weight, just do MORE and be a good influence on the diet aspect, not eating junk.
  • rachelerwin
    rachelerwin Posts: 140 Member
    My son just started working with a personal trainer this week.. He absolutely loves it! Perhaps look for activities for kids at your local gym.
  • Fairysoul
    Fairysoul Posts: 1,361 Member
    By spending time with her, she will take note of what you do. If you go out to eat show her what's healthy to eat from the menu, also if you want to get her a "treat" do something like a healthy smoothie, that can also be frozen as a popcicle free of junk! Encourage her to drink water!!!
  • Slack2ShortGo
    Slack2ShortGo Posts: 74 Member
    I agree with most of the suggestions so far. As a young kid, being active is one of the best things she can do. You are taking the right steps going on walks and bike rides. I would try to find a sport or activity she enjoys that she can do with you or her friends. I don't know if you have to go as far as a nutritionist, but the better snack options like carrots, grapes, etc. is a great idea. My aunt does this with her kids and has great success with it. You don't have to take away chips and cookies completely, just limit her consumption. Good luck!
  • sarahharmintx
    sarahharmintx Posts: 868 Member
    As odd as this sounds, try not to set a strict structure. If it becomes a chore, shes not gonna like it. "Hey! Its a beautiful day. Lets go for a walk and you can tell me about your day." will come off a lot better than "well, I ate fast food today so I HAVE to go for a walk and we HAVE to get 3 walks in per week."

    Also, see if there is something she is interested in. Maybe she would like a yoga DVD or something. Your local library should have some videos for rent.
  • Miche11e5
    Miche11e5 Posts: 114 Member
    Bless your heart for taking such good care of your niece! Maybe the two of you could work towards a goal together - a "Couch to 5K" run perhaps? Even if you can only practice your running/walking together 1 to 2 times per week, you can check in with eachother about the other practice sessions.

    The other suggestions here are great as well.

    Good luck to you both!
  • capnrus789
    capnrus789 Posts: 2,731 Member
    I feel so lucky that 5 year old already want to excercise. He gets very upset and starts crying when he has to stay home when I go our for a run a night (don't want him with me when it's dark, and he can't go that far yet anyway). Points to a solid future.

    I plan of continuing to provide a good example for him, and include him more and more as he gets older.
  • Halleeon
    Halleeon Posts: 309 Member
    I would just say to keep making "exercise" fun. Try out new ways, like soccer, hiking at different places, swimming etc. Mix it up and keep it light and fun! Make it more about doing things together and maybe...exploring together than "working out."

    Just be there for her as well like others have suggested, and maybe help explain to her the benefits of being active and that it is a lifestyle change with slow results but amazing benefits.