Updated: Nov 17
Getting a letter from school about your Childs weight.
This can be a shock but YOU MUST NOT LET YOUR CHILD SEE YOUR REACTION!
The way you react can be indelibly ingrained into that child's mind and affect them forever. Usually not in a good way. However indignant and protective you feel, you CANNOT let your reaction influence your child. The stronger your reaction the more damage it can do to their self-esteem and future.
Once you have calmed down you will feel better but your child will always remember the initial emotion they witnessed as something significant. For their sake you don't want it to be negative.
So either hide your reaction and play it cool or read the letter in private and out of earshot.
And DO NOT let your child hear you discussing this with anyone else!
The purpose of these letters is to inform parents of certain facts, they are not sent out to intentionally make people upset or angry.
Medical professionals are well aware of the potential health hazards of an overabundance of fatty tissue in children. This overabundance is caused by the ingestion of more calories than the body is using up. Certain medications and body malfunctions can contribute to weight gain but these are in the vast minority. Any obesity in a child should be investigated as it is not a normal state for most humans.
The first area of investigation should be what they are ingesting.
A record should be made of what is eaten and drunk, how much and when, every day, for 7 days.
Comparing this to expected consumption for age and height will reveal if ingesting too many calories is the reason.
If the child is not ingesting too many calories for their frame and activity level then medical tests should be next.
These steps are important because changes or treatment need to happen sooner rather than later so your child can have a healthy future.
In the modern world we live in, the food most readily available is processed. The shops are full of it, so are restaurants, cafeterias and fast food places. Starch, sugar, salt and hydrogenated fats make up the bulk of of these foods. Even sauces and gravies don't escape. Complex mixtures of ingredients never found in nature. Our digestive systems simply aren't made to process them and weight gain is a side effect, a big clue that all is not well.
So don't make the letter all about you and your reaction to it.
If you do feel angry, attacked, shamed, defensive and are coming up with excuses then use this time as an opportunity to learn more about yourself and the situation without involving your child yet.
The best way to help your lovely young one is to become an investigator, recording and looking at the facts around what they eat, drink and how much physical activity they do. Then gently changing these if they are a contributing factor. Their long-term health should be your priority and they will thank you in the future for being strict about certain things.
Here are a few easy tips:
Babies need milk, children only need water to drink (not tea, juice, flavoured water, soft drinks etc) so ensure they drink some every day to get them in the habit of having water when they are thirsty.
Increase the amount of vegetables in their diet.
Give fruit, vegetables, eggs and unprocessed cheese as snacks (not crisps, biscuits, sweets, puddings, cereal, flavoured yoghurt etc)
Meat and fish should be unprocessed (not hotdogs, bacon, sausages etc)
No sugar. Use a bit of honey or maple syrup to sweeten plain yoghurt etc. Apart from the initial cravings, the less sugar in someones diet the less they will want it.
If you make these changes gradually they will become part of your lifestyle and seem natural.
Also make sure that excitement over eating out or getting takeaways is not a family habit that happens more than once a month.
I know your children are precious to you and you want the best for them, being firm about diet and exercise is one of the biggest gifts you can give them, even if they don't think so at the time.
Make your mind up today to help your child be the best they can be, you've got this!