7 Ways to Emotionally Support Your Child During Weight Loss

By Joanna Dolgoff, MD, Child Obesity Specialist for The Biggest Loser Author of Red Light, Green Light, Eat Right

Posted on | By Joanna Dolgoff, MD

As parents, we need to walk a fine line between helping our kids get to a healthy weight while continuing to support their emotional needs. Studies seem to indicate that if you treat an overweight child in a sensitive manner, you decrease the risk of disordered eating. Here are some tips to make sure your approach is as sensitive as possible!

1. Talk to your kids about what is happening.

Open communication is very important throughout the entire weight-loss (get-healthy!) process. Let your kids know that losing weight is not always easy and that you are they to support them. Share some stories of your own weight-loss victories and setbacks. Encourage them to talk to you about their feelings.


2. Make sure they know your love is unconditional.

Remember the reason you are concerned with your child’s weight is for their health. That really needs to be communicated to your child. Tell them that you love them at any size and want them to live a long and healthy life. 

3. Teach your children to like what they see in the mirror.

Focus on their great legs or strong arms. Remind them that their bodies have many wonderful attributes. Dieters with higher self-esteem lose more weight!

4. Help them lose their inner negative voice.

We all have that little voice in our heads telling us that everything we do is wrong: "You shouldn't have eaten that..." "Why didn't you go to the gym today?" This voice makes us feel worthless. When that voice arises, tell your kids to tell the voice to shut up! Or teach them to counter back with something positive. For example:

  • "Maybe I shouldn't have eaten that, but I only had a half portion. To make up for it, I will cut back on my afternoon snack."
  • "I really didn't feel like going to the gym today, but I will go tomorrow, even though tomorrow is usually my off day. I don't want exercise to seem like a chore; I can reschedule my gym sessions as long as I get in my 4 or 5 days."

Article written by Joanna Dolgoff, MD
Child Obesity Specialist for The Biggest LoserAuthor of Red Light, Green Light, Eat Right