Health Kids

My 8-year-old Wants to Diet and It’s My Fault

My 8-year-old Wants to Diet and It's My Fault
Written by Aimee Erdman

I’ve felt the major mom guilt many times for letting my kids spend too many hours with the screen—the TV screen, the iPad screen, the computer screen—doesn’t matter. Any screen. They have had too much time with it on many given days.  

As a general rule, all screen time is in a common area—living room, kitchen, study—somewhere we all see and hear together even if I’m not actively watching with them. So that’s why I felt like I’d been sucker punched in the gut when my daughter started watching YouTube videos on how to lose belly fat.

She’s eight.

My first instinct was to forcefully convince her of her misguided thinking by yelling, “YOU ARE NOT FAT!” as loudly as I could muster and stop this waste of time.

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Thankfully, Sane Mommy was in that day, and I calmly asked, “Why are you watching that?”

“I need to lose weight. Can you make this garlic drink for me?”

GAH! WHAT??  

My daughter is shaped like me—thick and sturdy with plenty of shape to fill her clothes, but in no way is she overweight. At all. Not even a tiny bit. 

And then the next-level mom guilt set in.  

How often have I complained about my shape? How many years have I dieted? How many of my comments surrounding food relate to getting skinny?

I’ve fought the slow weight gain my entire adult life. I have always gone up and down 10 to 20 pounds.  

Then the babies came. And the weight gain got real.  

My first baby enriched me 60 pounds. She weighed eight.  

Most of it came off before baby number two. I was more careful with her and only gained 40 pounds.  But it never really left. I hovered around 180 for several years. (I’m 5′ 5″ when I stand up as tall as I can.) Then five years ago when my now eight-year-old was three, I got serious about losing it.

And I did. 

I counted points and exercised my way through 40 pounds. Forty!

It felt amazing. I felt amazing. I had energy. I was wearing goal jeans that had hung on my closet door for years. 

But as anyone who has struggled with weight knows, it doesn’t just stay off. It’s not like sawing off the extra inch at the end of a board—buzz through and done. This will be a lifelong battle.

And so, the light bulb above my head glowed from a dim flicker to a glaring strobe. I knew exactly how this sweet, gregarious eight-year-old had come to think she was fat.

Her entire life she has watched me fight my figure. Her figure.

I tried to explain that she is not fat. She needs to eat healthy food and make sure to play outside more than she sits in front of the TV. But my gut knew what really needed to change.

Me.

I have to change. I have to stop berating my body.

And it’s so hard.

I’ve put at least 20 of those 40 pounds back on, and I’m sure she’s heard me complain.  

But it has to stop.  

I need to lose the mental weight of self-loathing.

I don’t know how to change how I look at my self in the mirror, but I know I don’t want her looking at herself that way. I want her to see herself the way I see her. Perfect. Beautiful. So much more than how her clothes fit. I want her to care about her insides, her heart.  

So that means I have to do it first.  

I have to care more about how my heart looks than how my butt looks.

Losing YouTube should cut some mental weight . . . I hear the camera adds ten pounds.

About the author

Aimee Erdman

Mediocre Mom raising two girls, two cats, one dog and a husband in our tiny farm house on the prairie.