Get Your Child Fit by Doing Your Bit

By Estelle Sobel Erasmus


Her love for ice-cream parallels (almost) her love for her mom and dad.

By Estelle Sobel Erasmus

With the possible farewell to Hostess cupcakes,  Twinkies and Ring-Dings ringing in my ears, I’ve had some uh, food for thought.

Yes, like the rest of you I’ve read the myriad of studies showing that children are becoming obese in alarming numbers, and I’m as equally concerned that my three-and-a-half year old daughter (who is quite slim now after a few rather chunky baby years) has a bit of a Goldfish cracker, ice-cream and chocolate addiction.

Recently I had my favorite brand of Trader Joe’s chocolate tucked away in the freezer (out of sight out of mind and out of greedy little hands goes my thinking). Imagine my surprise when I woke up one morning to the sight of my daughter with a brown smear around her mouth leaning over me, reeking of chocolate and looking quite pleased with herself.

Our conversation went like this:

ME: What’s that around your mouth?

Her: Nothing

ME: That’s chocolate.

Her: No it’s not (how does a pre-schooler learn how to lie like a not-to-be-named actress noted for stealing jewelry)?

ME: Let me smell your breath (Note: dealing with a pre-schooler is very much like being in a co-dependent relationship with a drug addict or an alcoholic).

One chocoholic in the family is quite enough thank you very much.

Although my worries about the epidemic of childhood obesity are probably just another expression of my abject neurosis, I am starting to see subtle signs that one day I may need to indulge in getting a lock for the refrigerator just to keep her from sticking her face in the frig at all hours (Yes, she does THAT).

So, what do I do to keep my little darling moving so that exercise (as well as binge eating) becomes a part of her life?

I tape shows like Dancing with the Stars, and the X-Factor and we dance around the room together while listening to performances.

I figure that since she’s been modeling my behavior in every other way for a very long time (Hi, I want pizza,” she orders into her refurbished iPhone hand-me-down),  she might as well follow my healthful lead.

On a serious note, Head Start Body Start National Center for Physical Development and Outdoor Play, which is part of the Surgeon General’s Childhood Overweight and Obesity Prevention Initiative, suggests a few fun activities you can do with your child to help encourage a healthy lifestyle and develop her motor skills using easily accessible materials such as beach balls, paper plates and pool noodles.

Having a Ball: For a game of “Simon Says” with a twist, have your child toss a beach ball up into the air and do what Simon (you) says before it hits the ground. Simon can give directions such as “touch your nose,” “clap your hands,” “twirl around” or “jump up and down”.

Paper Scooting Around: On a carpeted floor, place a small object on a paper plate and ask your child to “deliver” it to you on the other side of the room. To make the delivery he should place both hands on the plate and push it towards you, keeping his knees off the floor. This is a great way for your child to develop upper body strength, stability and endurance.

Find Balance Using Your (Pool) Noodle: Tape a flat pool noodle to the floor and ask your child to pretend he is performing a high wire daredevil act at the circus. Tell him to walk across the “beam” forwards, sideways and backwards, and then squat with a straight back and stand back up again.

For more activities, visit the Head Start Body Start Toolbox at Each month the Center features a free, downloadable “Let’s Get Moving” physical activity calendar that offers a simple, fun movement idea for every day of the month.

As for me, I’m looking forward to enjoying all the treats of the Holiday Season, in moderation, safe in the knowledge that I will be starting a diet in the New Year.

You can, um, count on it.

And riddle me this: How do you keep your kids out of the danger of childhood obesity?


Mom Cave

4 thoughts on “Get Your Child Fit by Doing Your Bit”

  1. This is a hard thing to do and they are always watching us and our bad habits. The other day my 5 year old did pilates with me-it was way cute but also intimidating since she is way more flexible!!

  2. Great post, tx for sharing. There are several things I do that I feel can play a part in keeping my kids out of danger for childhood obesity. Diet, sleep, and play/exercise. I am not the parent that will give my kids whatever…just to eat. I try to make healthy meals and if they don’t want it or do not like, then they just don’t eat that meal. I find they eat a good breakfast and then 1 other big meal/day so I am not worries if they skimp on their 3rd meal. Kids will eat when they’re hungry. They won’t starve (in my opinion). Breakfast is a must too – most important meal of the day, right? I am also a firm believer in a good night’s sleep – so I am pretty consistent about bedtime and naps. And for exercise, we do a lot outside and make exercise fun so it’s not like we’re actually exercising. If it’s nice out, turn off the TV, put the videos down, and go play outside. And of course, we sign the kids up for a sport each season as well, to learn “team sports.” And yes, everything in moderation, we still LOVE our sweets too but they’re treats, not staples : ) Good luck!

  3. Your chocolate scenario sounds eerily familiar to a scenario with Princess Nagger when she was that age – including the sticking her face in the fridge at all hours, which did result in fridge locks (that she figured out how to open as she got older). 🙂

    For us, it’s the whole ‘everything in moderation’ bit – if she’s going to have cheetos for a snack, it has to be balanced with something healthy (and she wasn’t allowed to eat them straight from the bag like I caught her doing on more than one occasion.) 🙂 Plus I make sure she’s on the move more often than not – I need to follow her lead. 🙂

Comments are closed.