Are you worried about your children's weight? Do you fear that they don't exercise enough? Don't eat well? Are you afraid that your child's changing body will spiral out of control? You're not alone! Studies have shown this to be the #1 concern of mums of kids ages 9 – 12. And for good reason. 30% of kids in this age group are overweight and 15% of them will be obese by age 18. Compounding the issue, is that the tween years coincide with puberty. Oftentimes, it's tough for a parent to tell if the added weight gain and changing body is a natural path or one that requires a revamping of lifestyle habits. The reality is, usually it's a result of both. A child may gain a little extra weight during these years, naturally, then lose it as he or she bursts into adulthood but research has shown that our kids aren't eating well, sleeping as much or moving enough. And this is affecting now and for the rest of their lives. The in-between years are the most crucial for setting a child up for a healthy adulthood. This is when lifelong habits form and lifestyle choices made during this time will affect them for the rest of their lives.
So kids need guidance on how to eat better and a push to exercise more, however, experience has taught well-intentioned parents that if they try telling their budding, independent love bugs that they need to eat their veggies or jump on the treadmill, they'll high tail it in the opposite direction. What's a mum to do? Here are some tips on how to get your tween to move more and rest less:
Put a time limit on screen time
The average tween kid spends 7 hours a day texting, posting, tweeting and Instagramming. Think that doesn't matter? A typical kid burns 25 calories an hour sitting and over 160 calories an hour doing light activity. That's a difference of over 800 calories per day! Have them shut off their electronics and kids naturally do things that will cause them to be more active.
Tap into the activities that your kid loves
Tween kids are quite vocal about things they love and things they hate to do. Skiing, dancing, wrestling, shooting hoops, playing an instrument are all great examples. Start by asking your child their opinion, then expose them to different activities. Find something they love … they'll not only stick with it, they'll beg you to do it!
Make it about you
50% of tween girls expressed interest in losing weight but didn't want to talk about it. A great way to help them is to tap into their want to help you! Enlist your child to help you get into shape and eat right by picking activities, healthy foods and exercising with you. You'll be bonding through sweating!
Get the group together
Tweens LOVE to be like their friends and do things in groups. Organize the family or round up a bunch of kids to do a fun outing. Take a yoga class together. Go duck pin bowling. The more interesting and funny the activity, the more it'll appeal to your kid!
Bring in the role models
This age group loves to emulate their favourite athlete, actor or singer. Enlist their favourite by clueing your kid into what great role models like John Cena, Justin Timberlake, Pink or Victoria Justice are doing to stay healthy!