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?
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?
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.
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.
I'm an unintentional weasel feeder and I suck at proofreading.
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?
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.
Kim ~mom to one awesome dd (12)
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!
but everything has pros and cons
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.
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.
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.
Yeah, if he's using BMI to conclude a twelve-year-old is overweight, ignore everything he says on the topic.
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.
Laurie wahm (virtual paralegal) of 3 wonderful boys (11, 9, 5). 1st by c-section for breech, 2 by VBAC (one miscarriage between child #1 and #2).
3 houses - 2 blocks in the old neighborhood = 1 eclectic/traditional tribe!
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.
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.
You've gotten some great suggestions here.
If it is her weight you are worried about then, until you can find some way for her to willingly incorporate exercise into her day, you could just get her to cut down on the amount of food she eats, or choose lower calorie foods. You don't have to exercise to lose weight, but it sure makes it easier. Plus exercise is so good for overall health and mental well-being.
Homeschooling, Homesteading Mama to DD ('02) and DS ('04)
There is this 7 minute exercise that you can google. It is a combination of things like jumping jacks, wall sits, crunches, steps, etc. each for only 30 seconds with 10 second rest in between. My friend had it on her phone and one day when her and other mom's and kids were over (we homeschool) we decided to do it. Then another friend had it on her phone and we ended up doing it outside at a park, while we waited for the kids to finish their parkour class. The other day I looked it up on line, put some music on, and did it in my living room. my 10 year old son came over and joined in. I don't think it would be a lot of fun to do alone. But it is only 7 minutes and I found doing it with my friends and then my son quite fun, as we could groan and laugh at ourselves. Perhaps you could check something like that out and do it at home. Maybe she would eventually join in.
I have one child who does not like to exercise-- prefers to paint/draw/read. I sign both my kids up for tennis class seasonally. It's an informal class with lots of beginners and intermediates. They just have fun trying to hit balls and rotate around the court. None of them is that great of a player so no one feels clumsy or singled out. There are many time slots.
My other thought was to join a hiking club for the whole family.
My biggest piece of advice would be to stop talking about exercise...
Just get out and do stuff with her. Plan hikes, take a dance class together, go swimming, go on bike rides, etc...try to get out and enjoy nature, and quit focusing on the fact that she is "a bit overweight" (because believe me, she knows she is). Just go have fun with her.
Newly single, chronically sleep deprived mama to my little wild thang , born 11/17/12
I never liked team sports. I liked things like cheerleading because I could learn a routine, but anything that required thinking on my feet was a NO. My parents eventually started swapping off walking with me at night. It was great because they actually TALKED to me as well and I talked to them. HIGHLY recommend it. From there, I also started running on my own, which I also enjoyed.
I don't really value team sports a whole lot. I think they're great for kids who enjoy them, but I also know the uglier side. There are lots of other chances for kids to learn to be part of a team. It's not just sports.
I agree with other posters who've said do something together. My older dd hated exercise and when she was 11 was definitely overweight. Her doc was concerned not b/c of her weight but b/c she didn't exercise at all. I've posted about this before on these boards somewhere, so I'll keep it sort of brief. My dd was starting middle school, and we knew she'd have to run the mile in MS on a regular basis. So I suggested we go to a track a few weeks before MS started and start practicing. I knew she wouldn't want to struggle and be the slowest, or worse, not be able to do it. Our first time at the track she couldn't run half a lap (1/8 of a mile). We did it together, and she was so sad that she couldn't go far at all, and mad about running in general. But we kept it up, and over time she could do a mile albeit very slowly. She hated it. Hated running. But I told her we needed to stick with it b/c it was good for both of us and b/c she had to do the mile at school every so often. Then over time we (mainly me pushing this, somewhat nicely but consistently) started adding distance. Not much, but we slowly worked up to 2 miles over the course of a year. Skip to three years later. She and I run together 3-4 times a week, we've done some 5k's and we are training for a 10k. This was not an easy road, and she quit exercise many many times, sometimes for months at a time, just refusing to do anything. But she always came back around b/c she found she liked how exercise made her feel. I doubt if I hadn't done it with her from the beginning she would have stuck with it (or done any other type of exercise) b/c honestly I had to be the motivator until last spring. But it's been great for the two of us, both health wise and conversation wise. We talk a lot during our runs which is really nice especially since she just started HS this year. Oh, one reason we kept with running (really jogging b/c we aren't fast) is you get so much for so little time spent. A 20 min bike ride is nice but doesn't really work you out very much. But 20 min of running is a pretty good workout. So I kept telling my dd how it didn't take much time to take care of your body, and running was probably the best way to do it in the shortest time possible. She liked that aspect of it, even though she didn't like the running part. Plus it fit well into our schedule b/c like your dd, my girls get home kind of late, about 4:30-4:40pm from school.
Weight gain can come from "Healthy" grains too, count up her carbs one day, if it's over 150g offering more protein and fat and less starchy snacks could do some good. Get moving alongside her or have her go with a friend, and do it as play if possible.
My advice would be to educate yourself about insulin resistance, which is the #1 cause of obesity. What's good food for a non-insulin resistant person is far from being good food for someone whose cells are resistant to the action of insulin hormone.
This is my website where I provide some pretty detailed free information on the topic http://www.healthfromscratch.com/insulin-resistance.html
Everything in orange color is clickable and is linked to studies and articles on insulin resistance from Harvard, Stanford, among others.
Do you have a dog? Or could you get (or even borrow) a dog? My DD got in the habit of walking when she was responsible for a dog. Became a regular, twice a day, 20 minutes each thing.
Rhu - mother,grandmother,daughter,sister,friend-foster,adoptive,and biological;not necessarily in that order. Some of it's magic, some of it's tragic, but I had a good life all the way (Jimmy Buffet)
another mom of a 12 year old girl here....
So I was totally against all kinds of video games, until we went to a friend's house and played a dancing game on their Wii. It was SO MUCH FUN!! we played it for hours (adults AND kids) and the kids were arguing over who got to go next. by the end, all of us were sweaty and breathing hard. what a great workout! i'm very tempted to get one for our house just for the dancing games. they are amazing and really fun.
I agree that making it a family thing is a good idea.
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