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How to help your child lose weight

Published in Pediatrics, Weight Management, For the Health of It, Media Releases Author: Alyssa Monson, Registered Dietitian, CentraCare Weight Management

You may have received a health report card from a doctor, comment from a coach about your child’s weight or you or your child may feel he or she needs to lose weight. While the intent of the comments or thoughts may be positive, weight concerns can be detrimental.

Studies show that children who grow up with parents who see them as being too heavy grow into adults who are heavier than children whose parents don’t show concerns about their child’s weight.

So, before you click away to go find a diet to try for your child, read more about what you can do to help your kiddo grow into the body that is right for him/her.

1. Follow the Satter Division of Responsibility©

Do your job, so your child can do his/hers.

  • You are responsible for what, when and where to feed to feed your child.
  • Your child is responsible for how much and whether to eat the foods you serve.

Your Feeding Jobs

Your Child's Jobs

Choose and prepare the foodsEat
Provide regular meals and snacksEat the amount he/she needs
Make eating times pleasantLearn to eat the food you eat
Expect your child to behave nicely at mealsLearn to behave well at family meals
Expect your child not to graze for food or beverages (except water) in between meals and snacksGrow up to have the body that is right for him/her
Let your child grow in his/her own way

This table and the above info are from the Ellyn Satter Institute. More of their work can be found at

I can almost hear you from here. “What, let my child eat as much as she wants, of the foods she wants?!?” Yes, you read that right, and I know it can seem very uncomfortable to give that control away, especially when you have concerns with your child’s weight.

To let your child do their job and truly listen to their body, you need to step away from the dieting world and trust your child, but your child cannot do his/her job well if you don’t do your job of choosing, preparing and providing meals and snacks at regular times. So, in a sense, it’s comes down to “watch your own bobber.” Do your jobs and your child will be able to do his/hers.

2. Avoid pressure

Pressure always backfires with feeding kids. Not to mention it makes mealtimes very stressful for everyone involved. Pressure also interferes with the division of responsibility.

  • Pressure can seem positive, like praising or talking about the nutrition in the food.
  • Pressure also can be negative and most often comes in the form of restriction when parents have weight concerns.
  • Pressure also can seem like you are being a good parent. For example: Making her eat her vegetables, making special food or hiding vegetables in other foods.
  • Pressure can be hard to spot. Ask yourself, am I trying to get my child to eat less? Am I trying to get him/her to differently than he/she may on his/her own (more vegetables, less bread)? If so, it is pressure.

3. Have dessert

If you enjoy dessert serve it with your meals, but limit everyone to one serving. Let your child (and yourself) eat it at the beginning, during or after the meal, but no seconds on dessert. This will help dessert/sweets become less special so that when your child is on his own and has unlimited access, he won’t go overboard with them. Unless you routinely offer these foods at home, your child will try to sneak to eat them (and may eat a lot of them at when she can).

There is so much more to navigating this weight crazy world with your child. Join us for our Feeding with Love and Good Sense© class at Lifestyle Health for more in-depth information and support.

© Feeding with Love and Good Sense and The Satter Division of Responsibility are copyrighted by Ellyn Satter at

Ellyn Satter’s Feeding with Love and Good Sense: 18 Months through 6 Years Booklet was used as a resource for this blog. These booklets can be purchased at or at our Lifestyle Health Store.