The New Year is common time start the new exercise routine or incorporate a healthier diet. This can be just the catalyst for parents of children with weight issues, as it is never too early — or too late! — to increase exercise and healthy food. Understanding your child’s dominant sense will help you to create changes in habit that will help your child lose and keep off the extra pounds.
Tactile children are team players — they tend to grab snack foods and prefer the quick meal, especially if their friends are doing so. You have more control at home, so be diligent in providing healthy, nutritious meals in the house, so your child can be part of the team and enjoy that occasional “bad” snack when out with friends. Opt for group sports that are low pressure, with a focus on teamwork, and try to incorporate exercise in day-to-day activities, like walking to school or taking the stairs. Keep healthy snacks handy so your tactile child can eat on the go — apple slices, carrot sticks, and healthy cereal, like cheerios in containers. Teach your tactile child early about moderation and portion size — in their exuberance, they can have a tendency for excess.
Auditory children will like balance and routine. You may find in times of audio stress — lots of noise from traffic, crowded places, etc., — that they will tend to eat thoughtlessly. If you find her in front of the TV bingeing on crunchy chips, this is an indication she is stressed and needs calming! Take a quiet walk, or have a chat about the day, and possibly what’s bothering them. When exercising with an auditory child, the venue matters. Too noisy and they won’t focus, too empty/echoing, and it will hurt sensitive ears. Outside sports or exercise that require rhythm and sequence work best. As they get older, exercise that incorporates music will be a favorite. For food, serve well-balanced meals at regular times, and try to leave time for lots of conversation.
Visual children are very conscious of how they look to others, and being overweight really effects how they feel about themselves. Unfortunately, this type of thinking makes them prone to distorted views about body image and food. It’s important to teach them to have a healthy attitude towards both. Adopt the same attitude toward eating that you take toward other must-do things with life, such as tidying up, showering and doing other household and personal chores. It’s easy to get caught in the visual trap of feeding your child processed foods, as they are made to “look” good, and you know your fussy child will eat them. It will be worthwhile to make the extra effort to present healthy food in a visually pleasant way, for your visual child. Visual children who have a few founds can be overly embarrassed about exercising publicly. Consider starting with activities that feel safe — walking the dog with the family, backyard sports with siblings.
Taste and smell children respond best to eating environments that are calm, so a family-style dinner without distractions (TV, video games, etc.) works best. It’s important to build the association of good feelings and feelings of improvement with a healthy meal. Taste and smell children can have a tendency to associate food with emotions, which can lead to extra pounds if they create a habit of eating to alleviate feelings. It is important for them to learn early on how to deal with their emotions in other ways, or it can end up being an unresolved issue in later life. Exercise is often viewed by Taste and smell people as a chore, so try to frame it as an addition to a healthy life. Try to stay away from competitive sport but incorporate life exercises like walking to and from school, long, bonding hikes, and swim dates at the pool with friends.
Priscilla Dunstan, creator of the Dunstan Baby Language, is a child and parenting behavior expert and consultant and the author of “Child Sense.” Learn more about Dunstan and her parenting discoveries at www.childsense.com.