Weight Concerns at Six?


weight concerns at 6?


One of the things that I admire the most about my youngest, that I’m sometimes a bit jealous of, is her self esteem. There are times when it can border on arrogance, cute at six years old, potentially problematic as she gets older, but better than the alternative. Multiple studies have shown that seven out of ten teenage girls have a negative view of themselves, believe that they don’t measure up to how they perceive that they should be. Once formed these feelings of inadequacy are difficult to dispel. Despite our best efforts it’s something that I know the teenager has struggled with at times, something that I had vowed to try and do a better job of identifying earlier if her sister ever felt the same.

What I hadn’t realized is at how young of an age I needed to start my vigilance.

Many times these self image problems revolve around weight. Not actual weight, but how the individual perceives his or her body image and shape versus what they believe it should be. When I was sixteen I hated taking my shirt off at the beach because my ribs showed, ten years ago I would have hesitated because of my massive beer belly. I’m thirty pounds lighter than I was then but last year my daughter still asked when she was going to grow boobs like I had. I think it’s a struggle that many of us can understand.

I can understand it, but I was still shocked and saddened last week when the six year old asked if she could go down into the basement and use the exercise equipment there. She wanted to exercise not because she wanted to wanted to jump around with a calisthenic routine on the Wii or practice her ninja moves on the heavy bag, but because she wanted to lose weight.

My daughter is not a small girl. She’s not fat, actually is very healthy. She plays sports, hikes, rides her bike. We try and encourage physical activity and healthy eating as much as possible. When two of her friends came over this weekend, I was very pleased that they spent three of the four play date hours outside.

We try, but the fact is that this kid loves to eat. She had rotisserie chicken, potatoes, and apple for dinner tonight, but the amount of each that she had was both concerning and somewhat impressive.

She doesn’t think that she is fat, is not yet burdened by insecurity or a desire to meet society’s standards. She wants to lose weight, but also to gain muscle mass in her arms, the better to carry her body weight across the monkey bars, one final playground challenge that she has yet to conquer.

She doesn’t think that, and it’s my job to try and keep it that way. My job to encourage exercise and smart food choices, but also self-acceptance and confidence.  It’s a job that starts much earlier than I realized it would.




30 thoughts on “Weight Concerns at Six?”

  1. It’s so hard for girls and self esteem. I had the opposite problem, being scrawny most of my childhood. It’s so great that as a father you appreciate the issue. It makes a big difference .

  2. It’s a tough one isn’t it and we all indulge our kids in their favourite things. Our 9 year old eats as much as us and is perfectly healthy. One of my husband’s old friends daughter’s is extremely overweight from what we’ve seen on social media and my husband has said if they were still friends he would feel the need to say something. There’s no doubt about it that she’s very overweight and it’s sad to see. I think the fact you and your daughter are aware of her diet and her size is a positive thing and you absolutely know she’s healthy and kids tend to go in phases of going up and then out!
    As a child I was the other way and ate well but was too skinny!

    1. It something that I’ll try and keep an eye on but not obsess over. I’m certainly guilty of spoiling her from time to time

  3. I think you are right to focus on being healthy. Healthy food and a healthy amount of exercise are always a good combination. Thanks for being such a good dad.

  4. I definitely remember wanting to lose weight at an early age. Body consciousness seems so much more prevalent in girls than boys and I wish I knew why. I’m glad your daughter sees it as a way to improve her strength and agility (in not so many words). Maybe that’s the next generation and definitely an improvement on wanting to “be small” or “skinny.” The fact is so many images smack our girls in the face about what the ideal body is, it’s hard to keep the world at bay. But I think being aware of it, and knowing how to encourage a healthy life including a healthy sense of body image, makes a huge difference. Good job, Dad!

    1. I’m not really sure why it is either. It seems that the perception of what is attractive in a female is much narrower than it is for men

  5. It is so hard for young girls when being thin is plastered everywhere. I don’t have a girl, but if I did, I’d explain that those advertisements are there to make her want to buy their product. They want you to believe you’ll look better wearing their jeans or using their makeup. If she can somehow see that these ads are designed to get her to feel bad about herself and then make her buy their product to feel better, she may avoid that whole trap. I don’t know. It’s worth a try. 😉

  6. It’s so scary, isn’t it? I lucked out and got a boy, and still my heart breaks for his struggles.

    This is where I think organized sports (especially team sports) do a lot of good for the little ones: it gets them focused on what their bodies can do rather than what they look like.

    1. I feel the same. I’m hopeful that kick ass women like Serena Williams and Gal Godot are ones that she will look to for example

  7. It’s so tricky with young children isn’t it? We want them to be happy but they see so much emphasis on looks being important through the media that it’s hard to help them know what is normal as there are so many variations of normal! I work in the education sector and the advice for 7 year olds is that you should be able to see their ribs when they hold their hands above their head. There is a misconception that children should have a layer of baby fat; not at 7 I’m afraid. Having said that, children can fall either side of this guidance. We encourage our children to eat well when they are toddlers because we don’t want fussy eaters so it is a tricky balance. If you worried then perhaps give her a child’s size portion and explain to her that she may not feel full straight away but will do when her food is in her tummy. She looks adorable and with you guiding her, I’m sure she will grow into a healthy adult. As you say, being active is so important. Great post and good luck! #familyfun

  8. I already worry about keeping an eye on my three and hope I can support them well. It is very difficult. It sounds like you are being very supportive and keeping a watchful eye for problems too #familyfunlinky

  9. It is so hard to be a child these days with celebrities splashed all over the papers and social media!
    I hate the world they’re growing up in as like you said, a six year old should be out having fun not worrying about calories and exercise to lose weight!!
    Thank you for sharing this with us at #TriumphantTales. I hope to see you back next week!

    1. I was surprised it was something that she would even think about, being completely oblivious to all the outside pressures. I’m afraid its only going to get worse

  10. It’s very scary isn’t it! I don’t actually think the media and health system are helping this much with their quest to tackle obesity. Unfortunately it seems like healthy children are also getting the message and misinterpreting it as something everyone needs to do.

    1. I think nuance is very important when talking to children and that is something that schools and government sometimes can’t do when trying to address a problem. Every kid is different and needs to be treated as such

  11. What has surprised me even more than the girls are the boys. Last year at the end of year field trip where the school took the kids to a big park for a picnic and water play and such, my 10 year old didn’t want to take his shirt off to go through the sprinklers. When I asked him why not, he said because his belly is too big. Now given the fact that despite my son’s eating habits (not always the healthiest) he is very active and has just the tiniest pudge. It shocked me so I asked one of the teachers about it and he told me that most of the boys are self-conscious about their weight. This floored me because while I knew girls did I had no idea boys were starting to feel the pressure as well, and at such a young age. It bothers me a lot but the only thing I can do as a parent is to make sure he eats as healthy as I can get him to and keep him active (which is never a problem lol). #FamilyFunLinky

    1. I agree. To our collective shame there were a few really fat boys that got picked on a bit, and as I got older I was concerned about how I looked to the girls, but I don’t remember it being something that any of us really thought about at all

  12. It’s a very hard job. My step-daughter is like that. She can eat as much as her dad, but does exercise as well. She has quite a healthy body image though so I’m glad about that, but it is worrying – the mindset, not the weight.

    1. what’s hardest I think is that there are so many outside influences and all it takes is one comment from somebody else to destroy all the hard work that we might try and do

  13. My daughter (5) came home from school last year saying that her legs were “chunky”. I was so upset. We have always tried to promote self-confidence and healthy living rather than “fat” and “thin” but they’re exposed to this stuff at school. For about 3 months, she mentioned it a lot. But as her friendship group changed, it slowly disappeared, and I was so glad. But it is frightening that this stuff is already being discussed in the playground…

    Anyway, congratulations because someone loved this post so much, they added it to the BlogCrush linky! Feel free to collect your “I’ve been featured” blog badge 🙂 #blogcrush

    1. I’m glad that she was able to get over that, its so sad that they are hearing things like that at that age. And thanks for the reminder about your linky

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