Child Safety: Teens and Weight Training
Practice active listening with your son to understand fully why he is so passionate about his physical fitness. Is he hoping to make a sports team? Are people at school making fun of him because he is scrawny? Is there a certain girl he is trying to impress? Are people threatening to beat him up? Understanding where he is coming from will help you know what issues to address with him and will guide how you address them.
I've done extensive research on addictions and found that most addictions are the same: addictions to drugs and alcohol, gambling, pornography, sleeping and, yes, even addiction to exercise. While exercise and physical health are very important parts of your teen's growth and development, fitness can become an addiction.
Being as your son may not be aware that there is such a thing as an addiction to exercise or that there are potential dangers and harmful side effects, help him to learn more. Tell him about the dangers of steroid use and the scary side effects it can have. Share healthy alternatives with him, offer to schedule a few sessions with a personal trainer who can help him determine age- and body-appropriate workouts and workout schedules.
Before you speak to your teen, use these guidelines:
Ask yourself the question, "Will this feedback really help him or am I doing it just to suit myself and fix him?" If your motive for the feedback isn't with his best interest at heart, then it's probably not the time or place to do it.
Send I messages instead of you messages. In other words, give feedback in the first person. Say, "I'm concerned that you might get severely hurt with all of the exercise you are doing," or "I feel like you are spending too much time at the gym." You messages are more threatening because they sound as if you're labeling. "You are addicted to working out," or "Your priorities are out of whack."