PROVO, UT -- It's a fact that one in three children in the United States is obese. Previous research shows that having support from others makes losing weight easier, and being able to talk openly about the problem is a crucial skill for parents with obese children. However, according to a recent survey from VitalSmarts two-thirds of parents are unwilling to speak up and get involved.
Joseph Grenny, coauthor of the national bestseller Crucial Conversations, said when it comes to risky conversations with their children, many parents don't know how to speak up in a way that is helpful. They may voice their opinions, but they do so in ways that make their child defensive or angry. Since most parents expect this is how the conversation will go, they opt to say nothing.
"We found that parents who did not speak up and share their concerns in an effective way were more likely to coerce their child to change behaviors using various forms of manipulation," said Grenny.
For example, of the survey respondents who didn't speak up about their child's weight problem, 68 percent said they tried to change the child's eating patterns or activity level without getting his or her full commitment.
Alternatively, parents who did speak up effectively to their child about weight issues saw greater success -- and their relationship was strengthened in the process.
"Communicating with your child in the right way, combined with a solid program of healthy eating and physical activity, is essential to helping him or her make and keep important commitments and form habits that contribute to lifelong wellness," said Grenny.
Grenny said by applying a few simple skills, parents can effectively speak up in a way that enables change and minimizes defensiveness or anger. He offers the following tips for effectively talking to your child about weight issues: