Manners Matter: How to talk to your kids about weight

A while back, my son came home with a note from the school nurse. I was surprised to read that he was considered “overweight.”

It was difficult to tackle the touchy weight conversation, while ensuring my child’s self-confidence remained intact.

Dr. David Zelis of York Pediatric Medicine relies on the BMI chart to identify weight issues in children.

He gives parents a helpful handout that explains body mass index.

“When discussing weight with children, focus on health and not numbers,” suggests Zelis.

Tactful conversation tips

Start the conversation organically. Take advantage of opportunities such as shopping for clothes.

If your child notices he or she is buying clothes in a bigger size, this could be a great way to ease into a discussion about portions or the food pyramid.

Or, if your pediatrician expresses concern about your child’s weight, try to delicately approach the subject after the appointment using non-confrontational “I” statements.

Cori Strathmeyer, wellness director for the YMCA of York and York County, recommends upbeat comments such as, “I know physical activity makes me feel happier and stronger. Let’s start walking together!”

Snack smart

Conversations about fitness and nutrition don’t have to be intimidating. Make the talks lighthearted to get kids excited about healthy eating — and tailor them to your child’s age and interests.

“Have fitness fun challenges during snack time,” said Zelis. “Place 100 calories worth of goldfish, cheese and baby carrots on the table so children can see how their snacks measure up.”

10 Smart tips

    1. Incorporate physical activity into your family schedule. Children should get 60 minutes daily. Adults aim for 150 minutes a week.

    2. Make physical activity fun, not a chore. Try to bike, dance, play tag, hike or walk trails together.

    3. During the summer months, participate in the free Go Outdoors York program.

    4. Enroll your children into physical activity programs or after-school sports.

    5. Speak openly with your family about healthy living goals.

    6. Eat meals as a family. Serve a variety of raw and cooked vegetables. By providing options there are more opportunities to taste and share.

    7. Include children in menu creation and food preparation — washing grapes, peeling carrots, etc.

    8. Celebrate successes with physical activity and healthy foods.

    9. Focus on healthy living rather than weight loss.

    10. Eat the natural colors of the rainbow to be healthy and strong.

Source: Cori Strathmeyer


Visit and type in keyword “Market Basket” to discover the fruit/vegetable of the month, a helpful newsletter and fun activity pages to get children psyched about healthy nutrition.

The BMI, or body mass index, is used to determine whether a person is within healthy weight parameters. To check your BMI, visit and search for “BMI calculator.”

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Heidi Thomas

Heidi Thomas is a certified etiquette trainer from Sparkle and Shine Modeling and Etiquette program at GYDance. For more information on Thomas and the program, visit Greater York Dance's website,

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1 Response

  1. April 9, 2014

    […] Manners Matter: How to talk to your kids about weight Manners Matter: Be Smart about your personal grooming Instead of hitting the gym, get moving with your family […]

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