When weight becomes unhealthy, parents need to take a closer look at their sons’ emotional and physical health.
Kids come in all shapes, sizes and colors. We know that no two children will ever be made alike and that’s what makes life so interesting. Sometimes though, those same interesting factoids can make your child the object of ridicule by others and we as parents aren’t always aware of how dangerous teasing can be.
In a world where we discuss bullying regularly we still see kids being the subject of massive amounts of teasing from other kids. The short kid gets teased. The dark kid gets teased. The heavy kid gets teased and even the skinny get teased. Many still believe the teasing is harmless and kind of a rites of passage for kids. Cyber-bullying on the other hand has thrown yet another curve ball into the teasing game.
As a kid I was never thin. I was the shapely girl and eventually that was ok. The boys who were heavier than others however, did not eventually get that “ok” pass. Instead they were belittled as though they somehow committed a felony crime because their BMI was way more than the other kids. Some parents want to believe it’ll magically drop off on its own, but that’s not always the reality. And not all boys are interested in sports (which they don’t have to be) so they aren’t exerting the energy to burn calories ingested.
Fast forward to 2014 and obesity in children is at an all-time high. When we are forced to create initiatives for kids to lose weight and specialty camps for overweight kids we need to take a much closer look at America and body image. The image of the thin self is one we’ve desired for decades or even possibly centuries yet we keep getting bigger. What we now are focusing on is not just the physical perception of the body but the effects of long term obesity on the body’s frame and our ability to maintain a healthy, functioning body system. When you start seeing Type II diabetes in kids at elementary schools on a regular basis, it’s time to say “PAUSE AND REWIND!” We need to stop and think about what is happening to our children.
Baby fat is cute and in fact healthy in most instances for babies. When excess fat continues past the time when a child is toddling along, we as parents do our children a disservice to ignore it. These kids have a lifetime ahead of trying to simply live, so why aren’t we putting forth more efforts to do something to make the living healthier? In my child’s elementary school classroom they have banned certain foods because of food allergies. What they haven’t banned is high fat and high sugar treats that come into the classroom for not only birthdays but as tools for measuring various courses. Once they use candy bars, marshmallows and candy, they get to eat the products the teachers bring in that bold a big fat zero on the healthy nutrition scale. But hey, they’re just kids right?
Additionally, schools don’t offer physical education every day or even 3 times a week anymore in most schools. Last year a friend’s son mentioned to me had gym for the first marking period of the school year but then nothing the rest of the year. These kids didn’t get recess because they were in middle school; but, they were expected to sit at their desks all day after eating fat laden, sugar laden meals and be at peak performance.
Don’t get me wrong, many schools have adopted healthier food choices. This though makes no sense when those same schools sell sodas, candy and fat filled honey buns in vending machines easily accessible to the kids. When asked about it, I was told “we can’t take everything away. It’s there so they can have it in moderation.” Ok……really? What kid do you know who eats junk in moderation if there isn’t an adult standing over them saying “enough?” Some cafeteria staff think if they only have healthy snacks the kids won’t eat anything at all. Hmmm….there’s a funny thing about human survival. If they get hungry, eventually when faced with only certain options they will learn to adapt.
Moms are usually the stereotypical person pushing healthier meal choices for kids. This landscape has changed as dads get involved more and more with the care of their kids not because they have to but because they want to. If you’re stuck and need a few tips on trying to get your kids healthier try these on for size:
- Don’t buy the junk! If it’s not in your house, they will learn to get along without it.
- Stop making excuses. We usually say things like “well, I had it as a kid so I don’t want to deprive them.” As we know better, we should do better. (Deprived of sugar and fat- really?”
- Behaviors you teach in their younger years are easier to maintain and you can help ward of potential weight, self-confidence and self-esteem issues later.
- Old school says “dads expect their kids to eat manly (hearty) foods. New school says “dads have as much sense as everyone else and they’re encouraging hear healthy eating.”
- Don’t attack your son’s masculinity if he isn’t interested in the mythical “man’s meal” or sports.
Boys have enough to contend with in today’s world as it relates to self-esteem. Metabolism is unique for each of us and we have to take that into consideration as well. Let’s not enable the potential physical and emotional harm our sons may endure from not being taught about healthy choices. As parents, it is up to us to set the example. A man with a salad is just as much a man as the guy with a big steak in front of him!
Photo: Patrick Feller/Flicky