The pandemic has changed us inside and out.
As we, adults, try to adjust to our changing environment as the pandemic fades, it is important to remember how much our lives have been altered in the last year. Now, let us put ourselves in the kid’s shoes. Everything changed and we, their parents, were not always available to support them properly.
The covid outbreak hsas changed us inside and out. Our eating habits, exercise habits, sleep, and stress management have needed to adjust. Today data tells us that, one of the side effects is that many have gained weight, including children.
Initially, kids all over the world were staying indoors but were occupied with online classes. Later, when the outbreak was longer than expected it started taking a toll on the psychological well-being of the children Staying alone not meeting friends, not socializing, lack of social activities played a significant role in making kids dull and lazy. As a result, kids have gained weight during the lockdown. dropping immunity levels which are a threat to everyone in the current scenario.
The toll of weight stigma
There are so many jokes about COVID weight gain, and that shows a real insensitivity to the eating behavior challenges many are dealing with. It also puts pressure on kids to emerge from the pandemic.
There are many factors — usually working in combination — that have caused this risk of becoming overweight in kids. Inappropriate diet. Lack of exercise. Family factors. Psychological factors. We, as psychologists, must take them all into account when treating a kid with overweight.
It is important to normalize pandemic weight changes as a legitimate experience, help kids cope with the distress of stigma, and work with them to lessen self-blame and self-recrimination.
Body image concerns
Quarantine has allowed kids to avoid in-person social situations. It has enabled those with body image concerns to conveniently avoid and feel temporary relief from in-person contact.
Many of them have not even been seen from the neck down by anyone other than immediate family over the past year. Opening back up means the return to in-person activities, back to school, which can aggravate a kid underlying insecurity, reignite problematic behaviors, or lead to increased anxiety and insecurity in the aftermath of weight gain. So, anxiety is part of “going back to normal”.
As psychologists, we should move our clients towards practicing compassion. We must be incredibly careful and sensitive of the meaning this overweight might have in the kid’s head. The impact he/she is suffering with it, individually and socially. We must try to promote the fact of speaking kindly to their body and appreciating this body for getting them through this tough year
What to Do Instead of Dieting
Bellow, I have listed a few keys I use with my clients’ parents/tutors to succeed in helping them get their kids bodies back to shape and achieving a healthy weight
- be a good role model
- encourage 60 minutes of physical activity a day
- keep to child-sized portions
- eat healthy meals, drinks, and snacks
- less screen time and more sleep
Remember. Nothing about transitioning back to whatever the new normal is will be easy. We still cannot measure the impact. This readjusting also applies to our bodies. It will take an effort to get it back to shape, and we and the kids will have to deal with the weight stigma which adds stress during an already stressful time