bringing up a weight loss camp to your child

I’m concerned about my child’s weight. We haven’t really talked about how her weight is increasing. How do I talk to my child about coming to camp when it’s my idea, not hers?

We can certainly understand your concern. Going to a weight management camp may never have crossed your daughter’s mind, especially if she doesn’t consider herself overweight. Kids are sensitive about their weight and any discussion about it may be perceived as a personal attack. You are right to give this consideration. Rather than talk about weight, or how one looks, it’s best to talk about being fit and healthy!

There are a number of things you can do to set the stage for a positive discussion before the actual discussion occurs.

Start by approaching the topic of healthy living in small ways. Talk generally to the entire family; doing so will take the issue of weight out of the picture. That way if the skinny sibling complains that you’re doing this because of the other sibling, you can frame the information as promoting health for all, parents included (we can all get healthier, even lean people, even parents).

Bring up with the family ways that you can become healthier: talk one day about

  • wanting to eat a piece of fresh fruit a day,
  • another day about having more vegetables at dinner, or
  • cooking as a family one night a week, or
  • designating Tuesday through Thursdays as soda-free days, or
  • walking the dog together, or
  • getting pedometers for everyone in the family and tracking the number of steps of the entire family for a week.

The idea is, for you, the parent, to seriously move your family into a healthier place. Not with the zeal of a New Year’s Resolution, or a proclamation of no more junk food, but with a one-step-at-a-time approach.  As your child becomes accustomed to hearing you set some expectations about healthy living over the course of a few weeks, she will know that you are serious about living well. Continue along this path of healthy choices, slowly but surely. Look for ways that each family member can be active outdoors. Make small changes, bit by bit.

Now you are ready to start thinking specifically about this conversation of attending Camp Endeavor. Ask yourself how you can bring this up in a delicate, caring way to your daughter. Listen for the answer. You are laying the groundwork to be sensitive. Bring it up privately, when you are calm and loving and your daughter is not distracted.

This is not a time to scare them about health concerns that seemingly are in the distant future. Scare tactics have no place in this conversation. We as adults can understand that each person’s health truly is of concern; diabetes and cardiovascular disease are serious.

It’s hard for kids to understand what adults mean when we say ‘get healthier.’ People who are sedentary don’t feel bad, they aren’t in pain. The decline in energy, strength and endurance is slow and is rarely noticed, so talk of getting healthier is not understood, it doesn’t make sense.  Some kids who are overweight don’t realize how much more energetic they will feel if they are active and that it gets easier and easier to be active as one becomes more fit.

Hence, speak of healthier in a wholistic realm: that childhood, including the teen years IS the time for you to be active, move, be involved in individual and group fun. The human body is designed for movement and we are healthiest if we MOVE everyday! It’s recommended that kids get at least 60 minutes of active play every day!

Also, keep the notion that the weight is a “problem” out of your vocabulary and thinking. Let your child know that they are okay. Bring up the idea of camp as a place and a time to establish better eating habits, and get fit. Plus it’s fun and a terrific place to make new friends! Look at the website together, so she knows she’s not alone. Lots of kids come to camp to get fit and end up having the best summer of their life!

Camp works for a number of reasons; the food, the education, the ‘just right’ physical challenge, the group-living together in a cabin, days spent outdoors AND the level playing field. Together, these components set the stage for the depth of experience for kids to connect the dots between lifestyle choices and how one actually feels physically and emotionally. This is what creates the difference, fueling the conviction to choose healthy lifestyle behaviors long after camp, with the know-how to do so.

Hope these ideas help to get you started. Give us a call if we can be of any further assistance and let us know how the conversation went so we can pass along and learn from each other. Good luck.

Tut Gramling,


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