11 Year Old Daughter Worried About Weight

Updated on April 16, 2008
K.M. asks from Newton, KS
32 answers

I have an 11 year old daughter who is trying to diet. She thinks she is fat, she is far from it. She had a couple of girls pick on her at school and now she doesn't want to eat. At almost every meal she tells me she isn't hungry or makes excuses about needing to do homework or other things to try to get away from the table. I am concerned about her. Any suggestions?

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D.P.

answers from Columbia on

Weight is a big thing with girls. When I went through this (around the same age, maybe a little older) my mom and I sat down and looked at the nutrition values of what we were going to have for dinner and such. We went off of the 2000 cal diet on most foods. We would add it all up and see that what I was eating that night was within range. This helped me to realize I wasn't getting food that would make me 'fatter'... It really helped me feel as if she was helping me 'lose weight'/not gain weight. This made me feel as though she was 'on my side' with this... However, all she was really doing was getting me to eat!! It may be something to try. It also shows the 'correct' portion sizes so as lon as she is getting that she will be ok.
Good luck!!!

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M.R.

answers from St. Louis on

I would try to put the focus on eating healthy. Making smart choices and getting more exercise. It is not about dieting or being overweight, it is about being healthy. If she feels she is being active in her choices, she may feel better about the choices she makes which makes her feel better about herself.

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M.M.

answers from St. Louis on

Implement healthy eating habits by maybe changing the menu at dinner time. Try to get the whole family involved in eating healthier but explain to her some of the consequences of not eating at all. Such as; people who don't eat at all, there bodies actually store fat because it knows that you are not eating and it has to live off of something, so it will actually make you heavier. I am 48 and I tried dieting unhealthy and my hair began to fall out by the hunks. You have to have good nutrition and that means eating healthy.

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R.F.

answers from Kansas City on

K.,
When I saw your post, I almost wanted to cry. I was that little girl once upon a time. First things first, don't make a big deal about it. Like forcing her to eat, she will get hungry and eat. Second, get her involved in some type of physical activity that she loves. And it may take some time to find the right type, but be patient. I know that my life saver in more than one way was martial arts, it builds self esteem as well as discipline. Finally, and in my opinion, most important, make sure that you give her lots of praise
EVERYDAY for something about her that has nothing to do with her body. The worst thing to hear when you think you are overweight is how pretty your face is....etc. However, a very smart woman stood me in front of a mirror at 12 and made me point out things that I liked and it helped me.

Wow, I'm rambling, but I hope I at least gave you something you can work with. Good Luck!

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H.S.

answers from Kansas City on

You need to follow your gut feelings on this one, and please do not delay in getting a consult with someone who specializes in eating disorders, if only to inform yourself of the "red flags". I went through something similar with my daughter at the beginning of her 7th grade year, but didn't have a clue that it might indicate something very serious. Even her pediatrician didn't pick up on the situation when I expressed my concern that she wasn't eating very well. My daughter had always been very slim and athletic, and so it was assumed that her change in appetite was probably related to her stage of development. During the next month or two following our visit, the situation snowballed, until one day I placed my hand on her shoulder and was shocked at how emaciated she had become. The pediatrician referred her to a pediatric specialist for anorexia. The situation had become very serious in a short amount of time and I was told she needed immediate hospitalization. I was in complete shock that this was even happening to my little girl. At that time there wasn't a suitable program for adolescents in the KC area and so I had to take her to an inpatient program at Children's Hospital in Omaha. At the end of 30 days, which was all our insurance would help pay for, she was still not ready to come home, but they helped me put together a team of specialists in KC, who followed her for the next couple of years. Anorexia is such a difficult thing to understand for someone who doesn't have an eating disorder, and perhaps that's why it took me so long to come to the realization she needed serious help. I am happy to say that in our case, although it has been an extremely difficult and heartbreaking road, it has been a successful journey for her. We monitor her weight only on occasion to make sure she's still on track, but she is now 16 years old and takes the initiative to adjust her eating habits as needed to maintain a healthy weight. I wish you all the best. Take care!

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L.K.

answers from Kansas City on

Bless your heart. I have "been there, done that." My daughter is now 13 1/2 and she started that when she was 10-11 as well. When she first started I would fix her smoothies for breakfast, her favorite dinners and let her have some kind of dessert after dinner. Which desserts/sweets are against my beliefs, they don't call me the Nutrition Nazi for nothing around her! But just to make sure she was getting some nutrients down her. We talked about healthy body image etc. and it seemed to get better for awhile. Then January of her 5th grade year when she was 11 she had a sudden weight loss and I took her to the doctor. Before we started freaking about an 11 year old with an eating disorder they drew blood and found out she was in the recovery phase of mono. Which we didn't even know she had because her ONLY symptom was the weight loss. *See there is something to be said about a healthy immune system. :) But please take her to the doctor just to make sure there isn't anything else going on. Then just keep loving her and tell her how beautiful she is!

Best of luck and you will be in my thoughts and prayers.

Lori K

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M.L.

answers from St. Louis on

you need to get a handle on this now. I suggest you look for books on eating disorders this is how they start. Tell her to be realistic. She is at an awkward part of her life where her body is maturing and within a year she will be suprised at the developments. But in order to maintain a healthy skin glow and healthy teeth and hair she must eat. Tell her it is not all about the food it could be about genes and her age. SHow her good healthy eating tips. that when she starves her body every bite she eats will store as fat thinking she is starving it again. so it is better to eat healthy foods.
I would also point out to her the girls who are being so ignorant may be taking the show off themselves and that is why she is the center. She needs to try her best to ignor girls like this. and learn through life people will have an opinion that she has to learn to ignore.

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S.M.

answers from St. Louis on

I read all the other statements and what I don't see here is no one has noticed the VERY IMPORTANT CRY FOR HELP from your daughter! Get her help now this is not some thing you can do alone. Seek professional help NOW! She is at a very important stage in her life and this iws something that will not go away with simple conversations or helping with dinner plans-she is concerned for her body and she is growing into a woman NOW-so don't wait till it is so late everyone suffers. She is crying out for help NOW so do it NOW! Please keep us up on your and her progress-this is serious!

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J.C.

answers from St. Louis on

First look at what type of body image everyone in your family puts an importance on (comments about people you see in life, on tv, etc.). I had a mom who was always on weight watchers & when I wanted to diet at 11yrs (I was always a little pudgy & not petite)she wouldn't let me. I found a way to diet on my own & it wasn't good (can we say anorexic?)I never ate breakfast & for lunch at school I would only drink 1 or 2 cartons of skim milk, VERY small dinner & I would go to my room & exercise for 3 hours every night! By the time I was 16 I was only eating a small meal every 3 days & drinking Pepsi & water to keep myself full. So my suggestion is work with her not against her. Help her to exercise properly & eat healthier. Teach her it's not as much about weight as being healthy. Most importantly don't tell her that she's being ridiculous or she's pretty / thin enough, at this point she has mind her set otherwise. Just try to stay on her side or she will shut you out & you won't know what's going on. Good luck!

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A.P.

answers from Kansas City on

K.,
The other moms gave some good advice, and I just want to add: K., make sure you don't fuel the fire by saying anything negative about your own body in front of her. Girls will mimick parents that scrutinize their own faults or that have war games with the bathroom scale. If I look in the mirror when my daughter is present, I make it a point to say something good about myself--then something good about my daughter's reflection. Never negative, no matter what. As far as eating--just watch for signs of anorexia, and talk to a professional (school guidance counselor) about the signs and what steps might be appropriate at this stage, if any. Talking to her is a great start. She may act like she's blowing you off, but she hears every word of encouragement. Good luck!
Angie

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Y.W.

answers from Springfield on

I think it is important to validate her concern. Let her know that you are interested in listening to her. She needs you right now. Come at it in an educated direction. What does a person need to do to be healthy? Eat a balanced diet, exercise, etc. You could check out some books at your local library, call a dietician for information or ask her health education teacher at school to provide information for you if needed. She needs to know how to be healthy. And if she does these things then her body will be at a healthy weight. Eleven is an age that these issues seem to come up. They can become very serious if not delt with early on. I suggest that you educate her and yourself and not ignore it.

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B.M.

answers from Kansas City on

It good to see that you are noticing now before it gets to far. I struggled with anorexia from the time I was about 12 till I was 28. It's a terrible path to go down. Don't make eating a struggle. Encourage her to eat healthy. Help her find a reason why she wants to have a healhty body. What really helped me was getting involved in martial arts. I wanted to be the best I could be and that ment being strong adn healthy. If it looks like she's loosing weight and not being healthy take her to the doctor and get her into some therapy. Eating disorders are so dangerous and are truley miserable for not only the sufferer but the family. I wish you the best.

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L.S.

answers from Wichita on

Do you know any drop dead beautiful teenage girls that your daughter admires? Have them talk to her.

Girls this age are just ruthless sometimes and I feel for your daughter.

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B.L.

answers from Columbia on

First of all let her know that she is beautiful , no matter what . If "SHE" thinks she is overweight, let her know that skipping meals isnt the way to go. Her body will hoard calories, and it wont solve her problem. Let her go wiht you to the grocery store and pick out healthy foods, and prepare meals together, tell her exercise and eating good foods are the best ways to keep her healthy.

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D.D.

answers from Kansas City on

Looks like you've received a lot of advice. If the girls at school are picking on her that needs to be addressed. Most schools here have a no bulleying policy. The teacher needs to be made aware of this.
Beyond that it might be helpful to schedule a session with a dietician. A good one I know is Diadra Harnden, Kansas City Nutrition ###-###-####. This would be a good way to empower your daughter as she gains valuable information on the right way to be healthy. It would also validate to her that you care about her feelings and goals. I remember going through something similar to this when I was sixteen. My mom kept wanting to feed me and I just wanted to be thin. It wasn't an unhealthy obsession, and I wasn't fat. I just wanted to be looking good in a swimsuit.

S.L.

answers from Kansas City on

My girls all went through this stage. I did worry so I talked about anorexia and bulemia with them often. I made sure they understood what is needed to watch their weight without becoming obsessed with it. They all did ok and no one developed any serious eating disorders. Apparently, one of my daughters tried the bulemia route and I totally missed it at the time. So it can be serious. You are right to be concerned. I only hope my daughter snapped out of it because of all the talks we had.

Maybe you can take her to the school counselor and meet with her together or get an appointment with a dietician with her so that she can feel empowered to watch her weight in a healthy way.

Suzi

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A.U.

answers from Kansas City on

Weight is a horrible issue that all girls deal with and each year it seem they are younger and younger. My 7 year old will make comments sometimes. The world we live in is a scarey place sometimes because of what it teaches us. My suggestion is this, when your daughter brings up her weight talk to her about it. Explain that all of us were made differently. Diets are not neccesarily always good, but healthy food choices are. I don't know what type of snacks you have in your home but take the oppurtunity now to add healthy choices and let her know this is the right way to keep your body good. This can be a great way to explain to her that 6 meals a day (small healthy ones) is actually what help most people. Although this is a hard for you to hear your daughter talk about and you are concerned turn it to a learning experience and even a bonding one for the both of you. As for girls teasing her, that is a whole different thing. I was a picked on kid in elementary too. No one told me that the girl who are picking on you have issues of their own and they do that to feel better about themselves for one reason or another. Again a great thing to discuss together and learn about.

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P.M.

answers from Kansas City on

The school counselor is the person that saw a problem my daughter had that I was not aware of. The counselor arranged a meeting with dietitians at Baptist Hospital. They found that my daughter needed immediate help. I was not aware that my daughter was restricting food. Baptist Hospital has a great program to help with eating disorders if needed. Your daughter is crying out for help. My daughter was a perfectionist. Be positive about the way you look. My daughter was hearing my negative remarks about my body being fat. She did blame a lot of it on the media, but also, she was looking for attention from her dad after he left us for another woman which was very tiny. Eating or not eating was something she felt she could control since she had no control on when she could see her dad.

I'm happy to say that she's happy now and wants to help others.

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J.H.

answers from Springfield on

I'm no pro, but also have an 11 year old daughter and can remember being that age. It's a very hard time right now for your daughter because kids at that age can be downright cruel.Her body is probably starting to change a little also, as she is starting to "blossom." It probably wouldn't hurt to get the parents of these other girls involved and bring it to their attention how "mean" their daughters are. Or the Principal at the school she attends. Counceling might also give her the boost she needs. Sometimes girls don't understand the changes that are happening to their bodies at this point, so letting her know what she can expect may also help. I am also a single mother and know how hard it is to go it alone, a good, strong support base in her home life will also help her get through this. Make sure you frequently tell her how special she is to you and why, and how beautiful she is- and be specific-(you have the prettiest blue eyes, i love your hair and wish my hair was that shiny, you look so cute in that outfit). I take my daughter to the bathroom every morning and as I brush her hair I tell her to look in the mirror - when she looks I say "see how beautiful you are?" I know that seems silly, but when kids hear something over and over (especially if it has to do with any part of their person) they begin to believe it. High School will only be worse, as teens are even more cruel, so it's good to build her self esteem up now. And that starts at home! Little compliments from Mommy every morning may help her hold her head a little higher, because above all - what Mommy thinks of her she will hold most dear. I truly hope some of these tips help you and your daughter. Good luck and God Bless.
J.

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A.P.

answers from Joplin on

K.,
I SO understand what you're going through! My little girl will be 11 in a couple of weeks, and she hates her size. She actually is a few pounds overweight, but certainly not "fat". I don't have an definitive answer for you, but I can sure tell you what's been helping her.
We don't talk about weight. We talk about how important it is to be healthy. What's working for us is doing things together. We get up in the morning and exercise together before school. And as soon as I get my drs permission(long story - I've been sick for several years) she and I are going to start swimming at the YMCA each day. Seeing that I'm excited about getting "healthier" with her is really encouraging to her.
Something else we've been doing is trying to direct her focus on how special and loved she is by God - how she is "fearfully and wonderfully made". The more she realizes that she is exactly what God made her to be, the less she complains about her body. In fact, when we got her school spring pictures last month, she came home saying "Mom, I LOVE my pictures!"(this from the girl who said even her toes were too fat a few weeks earlier).
I know it's not an instant fix, but it's certainly been helping her. I hope it helps you, too!
A.

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M.H.

answers from Kansas City on

I believe the best thing you can do for her is to use this to teach her about healthy eating. I was the same way as a young teen because I was a dancer who was sat in front of a mirror and told to "think about what we were putting in our mouths." I was in NO position to LOSE weight at that age. My mom has always led a great example and started to help me count my servings and helped to make sure I was getting my fruits, veggies, dairy, grains, proteins, etc. I actually ate alot more food- at less calories and learned the importance of eating a healthy diet though I was not losing weight. A result- I work in the Health and Fitness field and get to teach people about these things everyday! It all truelly started when my mom took that opportunity to show me how to eat RIGHT. A great place to go is to www.mypyramid.gov. It will give you a personalized list of portions, servings, food examples, and daily menus. It is based around eating enough of the RIGHT foods. I would be happy to help in any way! Good LUCK! -M.

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A.E.

answers from Topeka on

I don't know if your daughter is active in sports or not, or with other extracurricular activities, but I would point out whether she really values these particular girls opinions. Are they friends, and does she need friends that make her feel bad about herself. I would also point out that she actually needs to eat every 3-4 hours anyway to actually burn her metabolism faster, not starve, because starving causes your body to hold onto all fat so you have energy reserves if you really are starving. Plus 'diets' are not the way to go. She should gradually change eating habits she can live with, like cutting out soda and drinking water or milk instead. Or add a piece of fruit instead of a bag of chips. Just one thing every couple of days can make huge impacts over time. Don't change too much too fast or you get bored with your meals.

I may seem like I am giving advice on what to do if she is overweight or worried about her health, but this is just info I found worked with my friend's little sister, who did have a weight issue. I know you said she is far from having problems with her weight, I then would encourage her more to focus on who the info came from, why does it bother her, and everyday point out a positive thing about your daughter to make her focus on other areas that are far more important in life. I hope this helps. I know it may seem menial, but she sounds like she might just lack some self confidence, which at this age seems to come to light so quickly.

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B.G.

answers from Columbia on

Hi, K.,

I think it's just a phase. I have a 13 yr old who went through the same thing around the age of 10 or 11. And she might have weighed 90 lbs totally wet. The same thing happened. Some girls at school were picking on her about being fat, so she began to see through their eyes.

I would watch your daughter closely to make sure she doesnt start using dieting items, i.e. laxative, direutic pills. Also make sure she does not begin to inhale a bunch of food then complain of being sick. I honestly think it's a phase. BUT...watch her like a hawk.

Hope this helps.

Bev

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Y.B.

answers from Kansas City on

Kid's can be so cruel now days, I STRONGLY suggest that you get her some counseling before it's too late. I know it may seem that you can't reach her right now but you keep praying about this situation as well. You also need to have this addressed through the school but ask that her name be with held so she doesn't experience any further problems but they need to know that this is a serious issue that's being generated through their school. I wish the best of luck & God Bless!

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J.M.

answers from Springfield on

K.,
It called "Self" esteem. Girls at this age are more hurtful then boys would ever dream of being. The other girls opinions of her is because they have found something to use to "pick on her with". Tell her, her easiest defense against them it to not let their opinion of her bother her ("Blow them off" and go on with her life). She will be surprised how soon the girls will change their attitude with her. If they don't she does not need them in her life. As her mother you are honest about her weight, Yes?

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P.E.

answers from Springfield on

Hi K.,
This is normal; I can relate to how concerned you are about her. I have some wonderful information that I would love to share with you on what will help your daughter with her weight, it tastes great and nothing like the products out on the market.
It is also very nutritious & will give your daughter all the
vitamins & nutrients she needs!
I use this myself & I know it works, it's safe & will leave her feeling at her best!
Give me a call or e-mail me so I can help. My name is P. Elting
###-###-####
[email protected]____.com

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C.W.

answers from St. Louis on

Talk to her about the importance of eating. Explain to her that with programs like Weight Watchers that most vegetables have no points and encourage her to eat her veggies at the very least. She also may need counseling.

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A.C.

answers from St. Louis on

Dear K.,
Since you are a single parent and your daughter is 11, she can plan meals to help out. She can go to the internet to food pyramid.gov or even send away for free literature. Everyone needs to eat healthy even if they do not have a weight problem. And unfortunately no matter how much we tell are children what they are not they sometimes can't see their beauty, being a pre-teen is tough. A focus on health is a bettter outlook because she is still growing and needs to know that she could hurt her health,besides you want her to eat but also even though she may not be rational about her real weight she needs some sort of support.

A.

D.H.

answers from Kansas City on

Have her talk to a councelor, whether it is at school or church or some where else. I know my kids listen to someone other than myself a lot of times because whatever it is, it isn't coming from me (or their dad).
Kids will be mean to each other and she'll need to know that whatever they said is just superficial. Who knows, they may be jealous of her and said these things to her to bring her down to their level. Love on her a little more and God bless.

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C.K.

answers from Kansas City on

Definitely keep an eye on her. While she's only 11 now, if the behavior continues and there's no intervention the situation could become serious, if not dire.

Talk to her about the media, how their focus is making money and that there is no photo on a magazine cover that has not been airbrushed.

As for now, can you talk to her about how cruel girls are at this age, ask her what it is about an individual that would prompt them to deliver a message so intentionally hurtful to someone else (i.e., that making someone else hurt is often an attempt to assuage one's own hurt)? Turn it around -- ask her to step back from the situation and to say how she would want someone to respond had she been the one to have said something so intentionally cruel to someone else. Make the deficiency about the speaker of cruelty, encouraging her to remain a better person than that, and to not be cruel to herself (hurtful self-talk and denying herself food, as examples). Ask her how she'd view you if you said you care for [a friend of yours] any more or less for how [your friend] looks. Ask her how she'd feel if your boss told you someone else got a promotion over you because the other candidate weighed less. Make it silly, because it is silly, in the big picture. Encourage her to rise above the shallowness of this phase. To quote my 25 year old (about his high-school years), "I wish someone could have told me then that, in four years, none of it will matter." View this excerpt from Tyra Banks's show and consider sharing and discussing its message (by this age, she's surely heard "the word"): http://www.mediabum.com/html/Tyra:-Kiss-My-Fat-Ass.html
Bravo to Dove and their Campaign for Real Beauty. They offer a "Moms & Mentors" link and a "Girls Only" link at http://www.campaignforrealbeauty.com/home.asp., and must-view video clips, "Onslaught" and "Evolution" at http://dove.msn.com/#/features/videos/default.aspx[cp-doc... Poke around the website for more and don't quit until you've seen & shared the "Image manipulation" clip and the "My body: facts & fiction" quiz.

GOOD LUCK!!!

C.

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T.G.

answers from St. Louis on

I would be worried too about your daughter. She is at a very precious time in her life. Where her body is changing along with her moods. It seems she is taking what the girls said at school very seriously. I myself would talk to her Dr and maybe even some counsiling.

God Bless,
T.

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F.M.

answers from Kansas City on

Perhaps doing some health lessons with her about nutrition and exercise. Go with her on walks, or bike rides, eat organic, or healthy salads with her. Show her and encourage her to keep it all in balance. Once she messes up her electrolytes, it will turn into a mental illness. Perhaps even threaten her with going to a psychologist. My mother ignored this kind of behavior at first, hoping that it would pass. However, if the not eating is too focused on, then she will start purging instead. I will pray that the Lord will guide you in what will help your daughter. If you could get her away from those influences, that might help, but the damage may already be done. Hopefully it will just pass.

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