Over-parented kids tend to be overfed

Last updated 10:28 19/02/2013
Michelle Bridges
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FITNESS EXPERT: Biggest Loser Australia trainer Michelle Bridges says children need to develop the skills they need to look after themselves
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In our funny old world, we frequently have a lot more stuff available to us than we need. Too much food, too much alcohol, too much technology, too much information. We are even now experiencing the notion of too much parenting, if a recent Queensland University of Technology survey is anything to go by.

The study found that "helicopter" parents are doing what helicopters do best: hovering, mostly over their children, attending to their every demand and overprotecting them from everyday knockabout life experiences. I understand that every parent wants their kids to have a childhood that's at least as good as, if not better than, their own, but the over-parenting phenomenon is, frankly, weird.

I frequently see the negative effects of this when I work with overweight kids and their parents. In such situations, I have to say there are often some common threads. First, over-parented kids tend to be overfed kids because Mum or Dad overindulge their littlies' demands for junk food and/or dish up mega servings at meal times - all in the name of a healthy appetite.

The other common thread is that Mum and Dad are often overweight, too. Now I'm not suggesting that all over-parented kids are overweight, but the formula tends to be the same. Parents who worry that their children are not getting enough to eat, and who give in to their every demand, food included, create a combination of circumstances that leads to a spoilt kid.

And that isn't just spoilt in the sense of being overindulged. They are also spoilt by not having the opportunity to become emotionally mature human beings, by not being allowed to develop the skills they need to look after themselves and be responsible for their actions.

This is where I tend to arrive on the scene, to find a child who has no sense of responsibility for his or her actions, who has been taught that he or she can always get their own way, and with parents who are scared to lay down the law, say no, and let their child learn from their own mistakes. Pandering to children creates problems, especially when it comes to weight loss, exercise and nutrition. It becomes all too easy for them to walk away from an arduous training session and to seek the comfort of sugary, fatty foods.

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Michelle's tip

Don't see the shortcomings of your own childhood as regrettable, but rather as useful events that taught you vital life skills.


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