Why Weight Goals Don't Work for Kids

behaviors goals habits observe weight loss Dec 01, 2022

We are going right to the heart of it: weight loss for kids. Why don't weight goals work for kids?

Anyone who knows me knows that I am NOT onboard with adults setting a primary goal of weight loss for kids.


1) How would you like it if someone told you they had a goal for YOUR weight?

What if your partner said, "We're gonna have you lose 30 pounds this year."

OMG, I'd lose it, even if it was an unstated goal that my family had for me.

We cannot set weight goals for other people - including our children. Especially our children.



2) Setting a primary weight goal means that is the target, the weight.

It says nothing about how you get there (diets, restriction, how are you treating yourself) nor what you're going to do when you get there (throw it all away and regain, continue restriction... forever?) And defining the weight as the end-point is also rife for emerging eating disorders in children by defining progress and/or success by a certain weight.


3) It's not about the weight.

No matter what anyone says about health, about long-term outcomes from weight... the weight is not the target or the goal. It's just stupid-easy to measure.

What really matters:

Our habits.

Our habits of how we treat ourselves, how we feel (is it emotional eating, or just a really good cupcake), and what we do.

The habits are the targets for change -- and the weight is a secondary outcome. Or maybe tertiary (but we won't belabor that).


How do you change habits?

1) OBSERVE them & do not try to change anything.

Remember all those animal documentaries where the narrator is just observing from a distance without changing anything at all? "And see the spotted hyena in its natural habitat, racing towards the..."

We, as parents, get to observe what is going on (minus the narrator's commentary by the way) to get more information.

2) Identify behaviors - are they helping, neutral, or creating undesired outcomes?

This is the meat of it. Behaviors are what we do.

Eating ice cream can be really helpful - joyful - a true positive. Eating ice cream can be neutral - whatevs. Or it can be something that is not helping you and your child reach the outcome you desire.

It's not about the food. It's about the behavior - what is going on, when, why, what we do.


This is what we dive into with Family in Focus. 

Behaviors are what we do. We can't just move in and change everything ("No more ice cream! Daily 1 hr sweat-fest for all!") because it doesn't explain anything about why we have certain behaviors - simply having a new rule creates friction. And that's the last thing we need in our families right now.



Check out the Family in Focus with Wendy Schofer, MD Podcast!

Listen Now!

Stay connected with news and updates!

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.
Don't worry, your information will not be shared.

We hate SPAM. We will never sell your information, for any reason.