The summer season often evokes images of carefree days, outdoor adventures, and the joy of being young. However, for many kids going through puberty, summer can bring a unique set of challenges, particularly when it comes to weight gain. As parents and caregivers, it’s crucial to understand what’s considered normal during this phase and recognize the potential mental implications it may have on our children.It’s essential for parents and caregivers to be aware of what’s considered normal during this period and how to address potential mental implications that may arise.
What’s Normal and When to Seek Medical Opinion
Puberty often brings about changes in body composition, which can include an increase in both height and weight. Weight gain is entirely normal during this phase as a child’s body is preparing for growth spurts and the development of muscle mass. However, it’s important to differentiate between healthy weight gain and excessive weight gain that might be attributed to factors beyond puberty.
If you’re concerned about your child’s weight gain during puberty, consider the following factors before seeking medical opinion:
- Growth Patterns: Puberty is accompanied by rapid growth in height. An increase in weight might be proportional to this growth. Tracking your child’s growth patterns can help differentiate between normal and excessive weight gain.
- Diet and Exercise: Adolescents’ dietary habits may change during puberty. An increase in appetite is normal, but excessive consumption of unhealthy foods could contribute to unwanted weight gain. Encourage a balanced diet and regular physical activity.
- Body Positivity: Ensure your child understands that weight gain is a natural part of their development. Promote a healthy body image and focus on overall health rather than just appearance.
- Medical Evaluation: If you notice extreme changes in weight or if there’s a concern about underlying health issues, consult a healthcare professional. They can provide guidance and rule out any medical conditions contributing to weight gain.
Addressing Mental Implications
Puberty is not just a physical transition; it also brings about emotional and psychological changes. These changes can be amplified during summer due to various factors, including body image concerns and social pressures. Here’s how you can address the mental implications of puberty-related weight gain on affected kids:
- Open Communication: Create a safe and non-judgmental environment where your child feels comfortable discussing their concerns. Let them know that weight gain is a normal part of puberty and reassure them that you’re there to support them.
- Educate About Puberty: Help your child understand the physical and emotional changes that come with puberty. Knowledge can empower them and alleviate unnecessary stress.
- Encourage Positive Self-Image: Shift the focus from appearance to overall well-being. Emphasize qualities beyond physical attributes, such as talents, kindness, and intelligence.
- Promote Healthy Habits: Teach your child the importance of healthy eating and regular exercise, not just for maintaining a healthy weight but also for boosting mood and confidence.
- Professional Guidance: If your child is struggling significantly with body image issues or self-esteem, consider involving a mental health professional. Therapists can provide coping strategies and techniques to navigate these challenges.
Reaching Out to Your Kids
Reaching out to your kids during puberty, especially when they might be dealing with weight gain, requires empathy, understanding, and patience:
- Initiate Conversations: Approach your child with empathy and initiate conversations about puberty and their feelings. Let them know that you’re there to listen and support them.
- Be Available: Create opportunities for open discussions but also respect their privacy. Sometimes, they might want to talk, while at other times, they might need space.
- Lead by Example: Model a healthy relationship with your own body and self-image. Children often learn from their parents’ attitudes and behaviors.
- Offer Solutions Together: If your child expresses concerns about their weight, work together to find solutions. This could involve making healthy meal choices as a family or engaging in physical activities together.
Puberty is a natural phase of development, and weight gain during this time is a common occurrence. While it can come with mental challenges, it’s crucial for parents and caregivers to provide support, understanding, and open communication. By addressing the mental implications of puberty-related weight gain, we can help our children navigate this transformative period with confidence and self-assurance, setting the stage for a healthy, positive relationship with their bodies for years to come.
If you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to our Pediatric Endocrinologist, Dr. Kowshik Gupta.
Thank you for joining us in this edition of GluCare Chronicles. We hope you found this information informative and helpful.
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- Risa M. Wolf, Dominique Long; Pubertal Development. Pediatr Rev July 2016; 37 (7): 292–300. https://doi.org/10.1542/pir.2015-0065
- Burt Solorzano CM, McCartney CR. Obesity and the pubertal transition in girls and boys. Reproduction. 2010 Sep;140(3):399-410. doi:10.1530/REP-10-0119.