My child is putting on weight, what should I do?
Out of every 10 calls enquiring about online kid’s yoga at Elate Wellbeing, 9 are of parents telling one of these issues “My child is putting on weight, my child is becoming lazy, my child becomes breathless with any small physical activity.” Once a very scared mom called to check our online programs for kids and while having a conversation she broke down, her son who is 8 years old has become obese, he can’t climb stairs for even a single floor, he doesn’t want to walk to the kitchen to keep his plate, he wants to be picked up while climbing up the stairs because his legs would hurt. After getting all the medical check-ups, their doctor advised them to go for some physical activity, disciplined exercise, to help build strength and stamina. It was very disturbing to hear about a child who has reached such a state. When I asked her how this happened, she told me that he was a very pampered child in the family and not only parents but grand parents would always want to carry him and not let him walk fearing that he would get tired. Now things had gone beyond her control and she could not see her child in that state. We advised regular yoga for him, and practicing online from the comfort of their home was the most suitable option for them.
Over a period of time, we have seen numerous worried parents calling and enquiring about our online yoga program for kids. Especially during such times where mobility is limited and schools are running online, kids are doing all extracurricular activities online, there is all the more need for online yoga for kids.
Let’s try to find out how a child puts on weight in a limited timespan. There are certain reasons which are beyond our control like genetic factors and hormonal imbalances. Sometimes due to the side effect of certain drugs like steroids and anti-depressants also kids gain weight. However, there are a large number of lifestyle related reasons that greatly contribute to this – foremost is consuming more calories than needed for the body to grow and the lack of physical activity. Its very important to inculcate the habit of healthy eating in kids right from the beginning and parent’s eating habits also play a major role in that. Children try to copy parents and other adults they see, so it’s important for everyone in a family to follow a lifestyle that is best for the kids. If parents have a disciplined life, they wake up early, have a routine to do daily exercise and walks, eat healthy and timely meals, avoid junk food, avoid eating out too much, consume lesser sugar and refined food, sleep on time, spend quality time together, the kids will automatically follow this right from their childhood without having any pressure. Its seen that such kids remain healthy, don’t put on extra weight, have better immunity levels, they are active and smart in all spheres of life.
The problem of weight gain in kids increased drastically during the pandemic of 2020 when there was restricted movement, families were home bound (in many places they still are), schools and offices were all being done from home, kids had to be sitting in front of the computers for longer hours for their online school, tuition and other extracurricular activities, they can’t go to parks to play, and food is considered to be the thing to look forward to, eating and sitting without enough movement and physical activity has become the new routine.
During these times practicing yoga sitting at your home with online live yoga sessions is a very effective way to incorporate good habits in kids. Yoga is a very effective ancient form of physical exercise, it works not only on the physical wellbeing but also emotional and mental wellbeing of a person. If kids start doing yoga from early childhood, it has multi-fold benefits like – increase in stamina and flexibility, increase in immunity, better concentration and focus, improved postures, controls weight gain, improved digestion, improved their blood circulation, strengthened the muscles and spine, helps them have core strength, helps in strengthening of legs, takes care of their overall growth of body, improves their lungs capacity, keeps them away from common diseases and sickness, makes them into healthy adults, improves their emotional outbursts, helps in anxiety and stress, keep them balanced and grounded. The benefits of yoga for kids are numerous, it’s just that we need to help them to be disciplined and consistent to get best results. Once they have a set routine and yoga is part of that routine, it will be a lifelong asset for them.
To keep children fit it’s important to have them exposed to the healthy foods as well. It’s important for them to have fresh fruits and vegetables of the season. Nuts and dried fruits should also be part of their daily routine. We can’t stop them completely from eating junk like chips chocolates and fast food and definitely not forcefully, we should always try to maintain a balance. If some days they are having somethings like that then they should balance it out by having very healthy food for next few days. There should be cheat days for kids when they know they can have anything they want, and then there should be days when they should be following only a healthy routine.
They should not crave fast food, else they will hog on that at any opportunity they get, rather they should be aware about their effects on body and mind so that they grow up to take their own decisions of choosing the healthier alternatives. As we know childhood health is the base of adulthood and later stages in life, it’s the responsibility of parents to help them grow into aware individuals. There are always better alternatives available for each of the cravings, sugary and fizzy drinks can be replaced by fresh fruit juices, lemonades etc., for candies and sweet craving dried fruits, dates etc. can be introduced, Fast food can be made in a way that they contain more of whole grains and vegetables and add a lot of colours in their food without compromising on the taste. There is no reason for them to eat a regular refined floor burger and not a whole wheat burger made with roasted vegetable patty and a lot of salad etc., similarly any fast food can be made healthier for kids. its important for the parents to put in effort and time in preparing meals for children and make them more interesting and very heathy.
One very important thing to introduce children right from the starte is to be self-aware, to be aware of their acts, to be aware of what they are doing to their body, eat with awareness, do yoga or sports or any other physical activity with full awareness and see how it helps them. This will not only keep them mentally and physically healthy but also help in boosting their self-confidence and zeal towards life. Like any other trait that we learn, we must learn parenting as well, we as parents need to update ourselves on skills on parenting, we can’t assume that just by giving birth to a child we have become good parents. To be a perfect parent to your child, you need to learn and unlearn a lot of things. One needs to invest time and focus on the child’s upbringing, there is no way your child will be obese or sick or low on confidence or lack in studies and extracurricular activities, if you have done your job of parenting in the best possible way.
As we all understand we are raising the next generation, it’s our responsibility to raise them in a very healthy self-aware way.