My daughter is self-conscious about still having "baby fat" and wants to start working out. I'd like to make it a mother-daughter activity. How should I start?
First, take your daughter to the doctor to make sure she’s clear to exercise. Then focus on finding a comfortable way for the two of you to exercise that will build her confidence. Overweight kids often don’t like working out in public places, such as gyms, because they feel more self-conscious. So, try a workout video that you can do together at home, play a game of tag in the backyard, or just take a walk or jog around the neighborhood. Your goal: 30 minutes of (almost) constant motion. But have realistic expectations and make sure to be her workout partner, not her taskmaster. If she runs out of breath, take a break and get some water. You especially don’t want her to feel that she’s failing you if she can’t keep up. Instead, gently encourage her to do more. Say, “I’m up for another 10 minutes … how about you?” Celebrate every little victory, and you’ll make working out the pleasure it should be.
Dr. Robert S. Gotlin, an osteopathic physician, is the director of orthopedic and sports rehabilitation at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City. He is also the author of Dr. Rob’s Guide to Raising Fit Kids: A Family-Centered Approach to Achieving Optimal Health.