It’s Not a Matter of Scaring Kids, It’s a Matter of Helping Them
I felt the need to write this blog after a conversation that I had with a couple parents recently. As a kid that was overweight much of my childhood life and into my adolescent and college years, I know how it feels to have those “scared straight” doctors’ appointments. I’m here to tell you that its not what the frightened kid needs to hear to help them out. I am not here to put down doctors or medical professionals, I am just here to say that as a young kid all that talk did was bury me further in the hole.
As adults, we understand that something needs to change. We understand that we have the power to make a change and that the only thing stopping us is us. We understand what effects being obese have on an aging body. We understand that having Type 2 Diabetes is going to make life very challenging. Also, as educated individuals many of you have come to learn that through a healthy lifestyle Type 2 Diabetes can be mitigated if not negated almost entirely.
A child coming in to a doctor’s office hearing that they are obese, at serious risk for diabetes, or if they continue along a current trend will end up at weight “x” is debilitating. Most kids at that age cannot separate that, and they feel it is a judgment on them as a person and are more likely to be depressed and run into even more trouble down the road. Or in certain cases (mine in particular) they might get even bigger because they don’t understand that there is a way out.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not understating the seriousness here - childhood obesity is an epidemic in this country as is Type 2 Diabetes. Both of which are extremely serious and steps need to be taken to correct it. The problem I see is the scared straight tactic I see being used on kids, and was used on me. To this day, I am slightly phobic of the doctor’s office because of it. So the message is this, your kid is not a bad kid because he/she is overweight. Yes, they may be in danger, but a 7 to 16 year old child is not going change out of fear, they are going to change out of understanding, patience, and guidance. Trust me, this is coming from a kid who lived it.