Swimsuit season is a time when a lot of adults take a longer look in the mirror. Often times making an effort to tone up and trim down, worrying about showing more of their bodies in the warm weather.

But, kids?

We know childhood obesity is on the rise. Not just because CDC says so (which, you already know). Their latest numbers report childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and tripled in adolescents in the past 30 years. Woof.

You don’t need statistics to know that’s true, though. Just look out the window. Kids are getting bigger.

With my kids, I look at the three W’s: “What,” “When” and “Why” are my kids eating. What children eat is obviously important. When– how often–are they eating is also critical. But, it’s just as important to look at WHY my kids are eating.

A new book on the market, “My Feelings are Hungry” by child therapist Ava Parnass, is designed to help kids avoid emotional eating. She told reporter Beth Engelman of the Chicago-Sun Times Pioneer Press that the more kids learn to recognize their feelings, the less likely they are to use food to disguise them.

Photo source: Amazon.com

I wholeheartedly agree. Another way I describe it with my coaching clients is “name it to tame it.” Neuroscience supports that if you can name a feeling, it moves from your unconscious part of your brain to your logical conscious part that thinks decisions through and actually minimizes the experience of your feelings. So you name your feeling (sad, hurt, angry, scared, bored) and you will be able to tame it by thinking more rationally and logically.

My Feelings are Hungry” offers games, Popsicle stick faces, and scenarios to help you encourage your kids to name their feelings.

Parnass also offered helpful suggestions to help curb emotional eating:
1.) Avoid using food for celebration or rewards (I’m so busted on that!)
2.) Wait a few minutes when your child asks for a snack to see if they’re really hungry
3.) Before giving a snack, try playing “What am I feeling” game, or a game of catch to get them talking to forget about food
4.) Offer water or veggies or fruit as a snack if they’re really hungry

Bottom line: I want my kids to be kids. Innocent childhood is so sweet and short. These days, it seems childhood is even sweeter and shorter. The only thing I want my kids worrying about for summer are kid-appropriate things (friends, activities, getting hurt, trying new things, etc.). Not about their bodies. Not their swimsuits. Not yet, at least.

What do you worry about? What keeps you up at night?

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