To Tom, it was abrupt. He noticed that people would stare at him more. Other kids, who he once had no trouble befriending, would whisper to each other around him and giggle when he turned to look at them.
His parents, on the other hand, knew the root cause: Tom had gained weight over the years and started carrying excess weight, and weight is the number one cause of schoolyard bullying.
They weren't sure what to do. They rarely acknowledged Tom's weight – sidestepping the awkward topic because acknowledgment meant they were "bad parents" (they weren't) – let alone know how to tackle the issue.
Tom's parents might have felt desperately alone, but they weren't. In fact, childhood overweight and obesity in Ontario affects nearly one in three children. And again, they weren't bad parents; they were as loving as any parents and only wanted the best for their child.
Had they understood the complex nature of obesity, they would have known that they weren't to blame. But it's not too late--there are a lot of tools at their disposal including Ottawa's free Family Reset program (more information below).
No parents should have to face this issue by themselves. That's why the the Ontario Ministry of Health, in conjunction with the Bariatric Medical Institute, created the Family Reset program.
Family Reset is a free program delivered exclusively to parents of children between the ages of 5-12 whose weights are of concern.
5 Group classes for children, led by a specialized social worker/behaviourist with sessions focusing on emotional strength and resilience self-esteem, anti-bullying, body image and stereotypes, depression, anxiety, and anger management. There will be no emphasis or discussion on weight at these meetings aside from how weight might play into the emotions and issues being discussed.
1 Group class for parents who have overweight or obesity led by a clinical psychologist on common psychological roadblocks to self-efficacy.
10 Hours (up to) of one-on-one therapy with a clinical psychologist for parents struggling with mental health issues such as depression and anxiety as improving the treatment of mood disturbances will likely improve those parents’ interactions with their children.
156 Total number of group fitness sessions for parents who have overweight or obesity that can be attended throughout the entirety of the program.