Food and Social Substitutions
If your child's social activities focus on food, it's time for a change of strategy. Video and pizza night is fine once or twice a month, but when it becomes a thrice-weekly event, you have a problem. Replace Friday night at the ice cream parlor with an evening of miniature golf or roller-skating. Rock climbing, ice-skating, swimming, skateboarding, biking — there are so many entertaining and active options for your child to explore.
Even if your child doesn't enjoy sports and prefers a good book to a basketball game, it's important to encourage options outside of television, movies, and video games. It's too easy to munch mindlessly when you're staring at a screen for entertainment, either with friends or alone. A trip to the go-cart track or an afternoon at the water slides, while not huge calorie burners, are an enjoyable way to engage your child in good fun with or without a friends and to get your family out in the fresh air and sunshine.
Kids who aren't into athletics often find noncompetitive sports like karate and other martial arts a good outlet for making new friends and getting fit. Camping — and all the hiking, swimming, boating, and fishing it involves — is a fun way to get kids moving and interested in the outdoors.
Ice-Skating Instead of Ice Cream
Food as reward — just about every parent has done it at one time or another. Who hasn't made the promise of a cookie if your small child will just cooperate long enough to let you finish your grocery shopping, or a trip to a favorite ice cream spot after a stellar report card?
Letting your child know you appreciate his hard work or are proud of his achievements is important, of course. But what he really wants is your love and attention, so why not make the reward that much better by enjoying a favorite activity with him? The next time your child impresses you, give her the choice of any one-on-one activity she'd like. Plan a picnic or at-home lunch together first to avoid food traps while you're out, then go hiking, skating, bowling, biking, or whatever else strikes her fancy.
A great way to get your child active is to integrate fitness into his social life. Structured classes and team sports take one approach, but they may not be for everyone. Most kids love movement and outdoor play, but overweight children may feel shy or self-conscious about engaging in some fitness activities with peers. In addition, overly strenuous sports can be physically difficult and uncomfortable for anyone carrying around extra weight.
Give your child ample opportunity to socialize in sports and activities in which his weight won't hold him back. Strength training, or lifting weights, is one good option. Your child should follow certain safety guidelines before engaging in this activity. Bowling is another activity that gets kids moving and isn't weight-sensitive. Golf (without the cart) will get your child outside and active.