There's no doubt about it -- America's youth are as susceptible to a culture of excess as adults. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that childhood obesity rates have doubled and tripled over the two decades prior to 2013. Weight can be a delicate subject for your 12- to 13-year-old. Your child is on the verge of puberty and probably already feels self-conscious about his body. Emphasize the importance of good health over a certain body type, and be a model of healthy living yourself.
Determining a Healthy Weight
Evaluating your child's weight is tricky. In the pre-adolescent and teenage years, your child is going through rapid growth and development. He may retain some childhood "baby fat" for a few years to come. If you have a daughter, it is normal and healthy for her to be putting on weight with breast and hip development. Both males and females will gain weight as they gain inches in height. Consequently, it is essential to talk to a pediatrician if you have concerns about your child's weight.
Even if your child is the only one in the family who is overweight, he shouldn't be singled out. Rather, make it a family project to get fit and healthy together. Call a family meeting to discuss changes to your current lifestyle. For instance, you might suggest that everyone cut back on television and computer time so that you can go to the park together in the evenings. Ask your kids if they would be willing to help you search for and prepare healthy recipes.
Respect for the Body
A pre-adolescent and teenager's daily calorie requirements can vary greatly from 1,600 all the way up to 3,000 calories per day, according to the KidsHealth website. Rather than obsessing over calories, encourage your child to listen to his body's cues. When he asks for a snack, question whether he is really hungry or just bored. Talk about the difference between physical hunger and cravings.
Make It Easy
Your child shouldn't have to follow a complicated diet and exercise plan, but in order to lose weight, he'll have to eat right and exercise regularly. As the parent, you control what comes into the house, so make it easy for your child. Stock the refrigerator and pantry with healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables, low-fat yogurt and cheese, whole-grain crackers, seeds and nuts. Offer to go with your child to the park to play a game of basketball or encourage him to join a sports team. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that children get a minimum of one hour of physical activity each day to stay fit.
Be a Good Example
The best way to help your 12- to 13-year-old lose weight is to model healthy eating and exercise habits yourself. A child needs all the same nutrients as an adult, so make sure your diet is rich in whole grains, produce, low-fat dairy and lean protein. Exercise five to six days a week, and involve your child whenever possible. Speak positively and respectfully about your own body and your child's physique. Remark on the amazing capabilities on the human body rather than critiquing certain physical traits.