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Daughter refuses to exercise!

post #1 of 31
Thread Starter 

Hi everyone, I am the mother of a 12 year old girl and a 9 year old boy. The doctor told me that both my kids are a bit overweight. I am careful with the amount of sugar and "junk food" they eat and in general I would say they eat in a pretty healthy way. I try no to make an issue about weight or weight loss instead I encourage them to exercise. They come from school at 5pm and it is hard to find time for them to exercise during the week so I signed them up for team games or any activity they prefer during the weekend. My problem is that my daughter completely refuses to exercise. Our discussion have been horrible. She just doesnt like to be part of a team (I believe she is uncomfortable with the fact that she is not good at it) or exercise in any other way. She prefers to read. Her idea of fun is to lay down and read all day! She is 6 feet tall and she is shy and very aware of her heigh. She is very bright and learn things quickly so playing games is the area where she doesnt excel so she refuse to do it. What can I do? I dont want to go back to arguing or forcing her to exercise. We dont have a TV at home, computer time is limited and just  recently they got a kindle to share so they dont really spend a lot of time infront of a screen either. What can I do?

post #2 of 31

If your 12yo is six feet tall and "a bit overweight", she's significantly larger than her peers.  This probably makes her feel awkward in team-type sports.  How about swimming, martial arts, or something where she can (sort of) work on her own instead of towering over her teammates?

post #3 of 31
Ugh. I get how she feels. I don't like to exercise. And I would read all day, every day, if I could. Maybe that is just who she is.
post #4 of 31

Plan activities for the whole family.  Don't bill it as exercise.  Just pack a healthy picnic and go to a park with walking trails.  DO you live up north?  Go sledding, walking up the hill is hard work!  Are you down south?  Walk on the beach!  Do you have a dog?  Ask DD to walk it...for 20 mins at a time.  Once she gets going, her body will feel better and it will get easier and easier to be active and get exercise.

post #5 of 31

I agree, I think that family activites where your DD doesn't feel singled out would be a good place to start.  Being forced to participate in a group sport that she's good at could very easily lead to your DD being ostracized by her peers.  My 7th grader recently decided to try playing on the school basketball team, never having played before.  Even at this age, there is a HUGE difference in ability between kids who have been playing for many years, and those who are new to the sport.  The kids are very aware of who the good players are, and who the bad players are.  Everyone gets to play, and the coach encourages everyone to do their best, but it takes a lot of confidence to continue to play when you know you're causing the team to lose.


Family hikes, walks, trips to the community center or pool would be good activities. 

post #6 of 31
Thread Starter 

Thanks, this is really helpful, Reading your comments I realized I am asking my kids to do something I dont do myself. Maybe I should start moving and then ask her to join me! I am still concerned though... I asked if swimming, ice skating, martial arts, dancing, once I took her to the gym and showed her the treadmills but she complains and doesnt want to do it. Sometimes it feels like her room has become her kingdom, her cave, she prefers to stay there...  I ask her to join us downstairs but she prefers to stay alone, she is not sad or anything she just want to be alone, reading or drawing. Do this sounds common to you?

post #7 of 31

That's really pretty normal at her age.

post #8 of 31

I am very much like your dd. I would hate an exercise class or a team sport. Exercise can be boring... maybe find ways to make it mentally stimulating.


Does she like music? Could she listen to music and dance alone in her room for 30-60 minutes?

Maybe she would like to try belly dancing and get into the costumes and cultural aspects.

Do a class with her. Make it a mother-daughter bonding thing.

Does she have a friend who might do a class or activity with her?

Would she walk or ride a bike outside alone or with you?

Do you have a dog she could walk every day?

Maybe she could earn some cash walking a neighbor's dog, raking leaves, shoveling snow or mowing lawns?

Could she try using a treadmill while listening to a book on tape? 

Would she like to go on a painting/sketching nature hike?

Have you considered investing in exercise machines for your home- or a tv/dvd player to do exercise dvd's privately.

Do you have a basketball hoop or ping pong table at home? Play some active game together often.

Maybe she would like to try geocaching.

Maybe get everyone in your family to set some fitness goal to work toward like people who train to participate in a marathon or just to beat their distance or time.

post #9 of 31

I think it is really normal at that age.


We have a family membership to the Y and general go on Tues and Thurs nights and that's just that. Both kids have MP3 players so they can listen to music. We stay for an hour. There are quite a few options for them.


Depending on where you live, there may be out door things you can do as a family. We often hike together on weekends.


You could also try an active family gaming system like Wii.


This has been an uphill battle with one of our kids, too. Just like your DD, she would prefer to stay in her room and read. We've worked to get into our little groove, but its a nice groove now that we've found it!

post #10 of 31

Maybe something like yoga that she could do on her own in her room?  If she seems otherwise pretty happy, it's probably just that she's 12, and all that entails, probably combined with being introverted.  I like the idea of a book and a treadmill, and I like the idea of a family gym membership where you all go, she could definitely bring a book, hop on a machine and do it while she's reading.  

post #11 of 31

I remember reading years ago that it's a normal pattern for girls to be heavier in early adolescence then to drop weight later in their teens.

I personally followed that pattern. I think that I likely got heavier than I otherwise would have because of the criticism and pressure from some adults around me.


Also, doctors have their own biases with regard to weight issues. I might find out more about by what standard her weight category is being determined.


Now all of that said, if it's feasible for her to walk or bike to and from school, that might be a small change that you could make happen. I realize that it's truly not possible for some families to do this, but I see a lot of parents going out of their way to drive kids who actually live within a mile or two of school. I had a sah mom and a wah dad and it never occurred to any of us that they should be driving us.

post #12 of 31

does she not have PE everyday at school?


i think due to the new trend towards obesity doctors are forced to follow the governement's dictates and treat all fat as obesity. 


i cant see how you can fit in exercise after coming home at 5. 


would she prefer a walk? a hike. 


if she has PE everyday i would ignore the doctor. i see preteens at the middle school and they all look a little overweight. i think as others pointed out that is the norm of growing. do you recall if you did the same? maybe it could be genetics. 

post #13 of 31
Originally Posted by sparklefairy View Post

Also, doctors have their own biases with regard to weight issues. I might find out more about by what standard her weight category is being determined.


Yeah, if he's using BMI to conclude a twelve-year-old is overweight, ignore everything he says on the topic.

post #14 of 31
My DD is also 12 and similarly lethargic (yet a little underweight), I think this is common for girls this age, and my DD would never consider any kind of team sport, either. Even though I am not worried about her weight, I try to encourage exercise since its a good habit to get into young. As a kid, I rode my bike all the time and played kickball with neighborhood kids, but it's kind of hard to do that in this day and age with urban sprawl/crime rates going up/etc. I agree with previous posters, "family exercise" is the best. We go on hikes or swim as a family on the weekends, but I try to do little things during the week as well. We have all of the Just Dance games, which really are good exercise, DD likes to do the Wii fit on her own time sometimes. We also have a couple of hula hoops around (the good kind, not the toy store version) and DD has taught herself to do some tricks even. I was thinking about getting her an LED one for Christmas to make it more fun, but she will do it on her own when she gets bored during no screen time/go outside and play time.
post #15 of 31

I was that type of teen - and to this day I would rather read a book than join a team sport! That said, I think it is CRUCIAL that kids get enough activity in, and honestly I'd say they need at least 30 minutes 6 days a week - preferably more. A family walk after dinner every day would be all that you need. And I also agree that swimming and similar solo activities are a good choice. Another option my non-exercise child likes is family tennis games at the free public courts. A pre-teen with a little extra weight BEFORE hitting full height isn't a huge deal, but a pre-teen at that height is not going to get lighter without some activity. If nothing else maybe just a simple home routine of some basic cardio - jumping jacks, skipping rope, dancing - anything like that, and do it as a family. Then she won't feel like it's about her weight - it's about a family getting healthy together. My super-skinny 8yo needs me to do these types of things with him - he is thin, but he is not "fit" or active. He'd rather play video games all day if he had his way and he needs to be encouraged to find activities he will enjoy.

post #16 of 31
Do you live where biking is a possibility? I love to ride my bike. I load up my phone with podcasts, music, or listen to Pandora, and listen to it on my bike! I have an iHome portable speaker that wraps around the handle bars, since headphones & biking is a dangerous combo. Maybe your daughter would like a fat tire cruiser with some cool accessories?
post #17 of 31

You've already gotten some wonderful responses.  I'd also like to restate 'don't bill it as exercise'.  Who wants to put-their-nose-to-the-grindstone kind of exercise?  Not me.  But I love dancing, gardening/ hard yard work, working up a sweat that is NOT aerobics class type of exercise.  I like the idea to involve the whole family in a fun activity.  Frisbee anyone?  And don't focus on losing weight.  Focus on having fun and being healthy. 


What kind of books is she reading?  Tap into her favorite topics to find an appealing activity.  Horses?  Nature?  Mysteries-could go geocaching.  Is she creative?  Get her to build something where she has to pick up and haul around wood. 


Also for anyone else who is reading, exercise is also good for kids who are too skinny.  I was really, really thin as a teen.  When I started skateboarding, I finally developed an appetite and gained a few (needed) pounds of muscle. 

post #18 of 31

Take walks with her, hike, bike. exercise doesn't have to be a formal sport.

post #19 of 31
Go for a half hour walk after or before dinner or maybe do a yoga video together?
post #20 of 31

I just want to echo whoever pointed out that BMI is not a good predictor of health or anything, really. 

Also, treadmills = boring, and gyms can be really awkward so its no wonder she doesn't want to do that. Is she interested in doing *anything* physical? Something less competitive and more fun, like rock climbing or skiing? Hiking, yard games, bicycling, surfing, longboarding, roller skating, etc?

And I agree that it might be good for her to see you as a positive example. Try something that puts you out of your comfort zone, and let her see that even if something makes you feel silly or uncoordinated, it can still be a lot of fun - ie "I'm so glad I did something different and took that kickboxing class, I wasn't very good at it but I'm proud of myself!"

I think weight itself is way less important than an active lifestyle, but making major lifestyle changes is difficult and has to be something you enjoy. Its really hard to get the time and energy to dedicate an hour every day drudging away on the treatmill... but taking a weekly bicycle ride to the farmer's market then the bookstore? Fun. Then playing tag at the park will having a bbq dinner the next day, or taking an archery class, and so forth. 

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