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Helping Your Child Set Realistic Goals

June 10, 2008 - 7:30am
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Helping Your Child Set Realistic Goals


“What’s your weight loss goal?”

Losing weight may be a goal for your child, but don’t pressure him or her to reach an unrealistic number. Help your child by encouraging small changes in his or her lifestyle that can add up to healthy success.

“Not to look at it as just let’s lose 20 pounds or 40 pounds, or you know – big goals that you might not ever reach, but to be healthy.”

Instead, encourage your child to work with you and his or her healthcare provider to set a health goal that is manageable, and safe. Help your child to divide large goals into smaller, easier ones. And it helps when the whole family gets involved.

For example: suppose your child’s goal is to cut out sugary desserts after dinner. Stopping them all at once can cause frustration, anger and resentment. It may be too difficult, and may set your child up for failure.

Instead, serve smaller portions, which can help cut calories. After a while, limit dessert to every other night. In a short time, it will be easier to stop having them altogether, and the goal to eliminate desserts will be met.

Better yet, if your child wants to keep something sweet for the end of the meal, suggest something healthy. Instead of ice cream, for example, try a fruit smoothie made with yogurt. Or better yet, whole fruit.

Another example: maybe your child’s large goal is to be more active. If so, begin by encouraging gradual exercise, like taking a short walk.

“If you’re not doing anything now, well, could you walk three days a week for 10 minutes each day?”

When that small step becomes habit, make the walks last longer, or walk more often. Before long, your child’s stamina will have improved. He or she may feel more confident about exercising, and the large goal of being active will be met.

When one change becomes a habit, your child can choose to make another one. Or, if one change is too difficult, help your child choose a different one. Encourage him or her to revisit the unaccomplished goal when he or she is ready.

There will be times when you or your child slips up. We all do, we’re human. Let your child know that it’s okay.

With small, doable goals you won’t overwhelm your child with too many changes at once. And by breaking large goals into realistic, smaller ones, your child is in a better position for long-term success.

This will keep the weight off now and for a lifetime.

Animation Copyright © 2008 Milner-Fenwick

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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