According to a study we recently conducted, three out of five parents fail when trying to help their kids lose weight.
The research found that parents and children alike have far less control over their behavior than they think they do because they’re blind to the influences keeping them stuck. Parents can’t change their behavior, much less their child’s, until they understand the six sources working against them and marshal the sources to influence their behavior for good.
Here are some tips for reversing childhood obesity by changing bad behavior:
Change their impulses: Help your kids change the way they think about what they currently consider to be unpleasant behaviors such as healthy eating or exercise. For example, show them how healthy habits are important to their favorite sports hero.
Overcome ignorance: Teach your kids skills for making and keeping new habits like enrolling them in a new sport or teaching them about the food pyramid. For example, in an experiment to resist eating a marshmallow now for two later, 50 percent more kids were successful at earning two marshmallows when they were taught distancing tactics to distract them while waiting.
Turn accomplices into friends: Don’t underestimate the power of your kids’ peers. Bad habits are a team sport. Encourage your kids to spend time with friends who model good behavior.
Call in a coach: Coaches are crucial to behavior change success. While you might be a great cheerleader, enlist the power of an external coach to support your child, such as a sports coach. Research shows those with a half dozen coaches or mentors are almost 40 percent more likely to succeed than those without a half dozen coaches.
Reward small successes: When used in moderation, rewards can motivate kids to keep good habits. For example, if your kids meet their weekly goal of exercise, reward them with their favorite game, small treat or additional time with you.
Restructure your home: Make physical changes to your home that enable new behaviors. Put out healthy snacks instead of junk food. Schedule active family time, such as bike riding, as opposed to TV watching.