Beliefnet
Doing Life Together

watermelon-846357_1920A problem for both kids and adults is eating out of emotional needs. I’ve worked with a number of kids who eat because of marital tension or the threat of divorce in their homes. Many kids eat to cope with stress and anxiety over performance and perfection issues, some eat because of insecurities in peer relationships, or they feel rejected by friends, or they eat in response to any number of emotions (happy, sad, frustrated, etc.).

Because food is so easily available, it can become a way to soothe and comfort a child. Food doesn’t talk back. It makes you feel good and requires nothing but your enjoyment. Like other addictions, food can be used to numb out pain and life stress. For example, that hot fudge sundae can make a child temporarily forget that his parents are fighting with each other.

This means overeating can become a way to react to emotional stress and pain. If that is the case with you or your child, you will need to change this and teach your child to cope with life in different and healthier ways. I’ve got a number of strategies that will help in this area.

When kids have less time to spend with parents because parents are both working or working long hours, they tend to eat out of boredom and choose foods to comfort themselves. Many latchkey kids tell me they come home, sit in front of the TV and eat. It’s a way to relax from a stressful school day. And because of safety issues, latch key kids are often told to stay in the house which limits their activity. So what do they choose to do? Eat and sit. These kids need to be redirected to other activities. The good news is, you can do that even when you aren’t home. You and your children can come up with a structured plan for the few hours he or she may be home with an older brother or sister after school. This is doable.

There’s an old saying, sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me. Well, actually this isn’t true. Kids who are teased about their weight regardless of how overweight they really are, experience emotional distress. Sadly, a few of those kids may even try suicide.

Teasing can be brutal like, “Hey fatso! Can you squeeze into your desk?” or more subtle like, “Do you think you should eat that pizza?” Kids can become depressed, hate their bodies and plummet in their self-esteem.

The truth is that overweight kids are teased more often than kids who are average weight. Because of this, parents should make every effort to confront teasing when it happens and get it to stop. Every parent needs to deal with teasing and not allow lies to take hold in a child’s mind. This is such an important area.

Finally, too many kids are fighting battles they are not equipped to fight. Whether it’s the bully at school or the fudge brownies at the 7-11, kids need adult help and intervention. We need to equip our children to handle life from a world view that makes sense and give them the tools they need to grow up healthy.

Kids experience a great deal of stress and pressure, but they can learn to take on these problems applying biblical principles to their lives. Teaching your children to deal with life from a biblical worldview is a way to equip them. Temptation can be overcome. Rejection can be replaced with unconditional love and acceptance. Balance and moderation can be achieved. Self-control is a fruit of the spirit that comes from abiding in Christ. And emotional eating can be stopped and redirected to healthy coping mechanisms.

 

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