As a mom, you want your children to be as healthy as possible. If your 12-year-old is overweight, it's good to help him get control of the problem now before it spirals out of control. Healthy habits developed as a child will likely continue into adulthood. However, don't expect physical perfection from your children and don't push a child who is at a healthy weight to be extra skinny. Consider visiting a pediatrician or nutritionist before making dramatic changes. A child and adolescent psychologist can work with obese children who struggle with emotional problems.
Count calories for your child. An average boy who is between 11 and 14 years old needs to consume about 2,500 calories a day. An average girl between 11 and 18 needs about 2,200 calories a day. When your child consumes more calories than his body uses in a day, he'll gain weight. Be aware of what he's eating and drinking to get an idea of where the weight gain is coming from.
Your child may be hungry and consuming high-calorie, unhealthy foods to keep him full. For example, a 12-ounce soda has 124 to 189 calories, and a Big Mac and medium fries amount to 920 calories. Instead of putting your child on a diet, keep him nourished and full with lower calorie, healthier alternatives that the entire family eats. For example, replace white bread with whole grains, eliminate soda from the house and drink more water, cook at home instead of going out and add more vegetables to his diet. If he likes to snack, give him carrot sticks, yogurt or grapes instead of chips.
Give your child opportunities to exercise, and let him choose activities that he enjoys. If he likes football or baseball, encourage him to participate in these sports so he burns more calories during the day. If your child doesn't like sports, encourage him to do other outdoor activities instead, like walking the dog, jumping rope, walking to school or skateboarding. Some children like taking dance lessons or group exercise classes because of the motivating setting. If your child wants to take a Zumba class, for example, encourage him to do so.
If your child is eating unhealthy food during the day, it might be because he's skipping breakfast and is famished by the time lunch comes around. Twelve-year-olds may have a tough time getting up earlier in the morning, but make it a priority to start serving breakfast every day. Make sure the breakfast is healthy and nutritious, like whole-grain toast rather than a sugary cereal. If your child doesn't like breakfast, encourage him to at least eat healthy skim cheese or some nuts before he goes off to school.