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“Mom I don’t want to go.”
7 Ways to Help Your Reluctant Wellspring Camper
Take this Important Step to a Better Life

Daniel S. Kirschenbaum, Ph.D., ABPP
Professor of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences,
Northwestern University Medical School
Clinical Director, Wellspring Camps

You understand that it is time to try something different to help your child. Most families of Wellspring Campers have tried many diets, gym memberships, dietitians, and counselors – not to mention begging, pleading, and occasionally nagging. You realize that if those approaches haven’t worked in the past, they aren’t likely to work now. (Hope may work for politicians, but it doesn’t do much for weight controllers.)

Unfortunately, many young people, while clearly suffering from the consequences of excess weight every day, become quite anxious about the prospect of leaving home to do something about it. The following suggestions have helped hundreds of families transform reluctance into acceptance – sometimes even into appreciation of this remarkable opportunity.

1. Clarify Your Own Commitment. Why do you want this program for your son or daughter? You’re probably aware of the risks of not doing something. As Harvard pediatrician Dr. David Ludwig noted in a recent paper in Pediatrics, “Obesity affects every organ system in a child’s body, and it can do so in a much more profound way than in adults because children are still growing.” About 90% of overweight teenagers become obese adults – and obesity compromises every aspect of life (from health to psychosocial to academic to vocational). The good news: effective weight control reverses all of these risks and has immediate positive benefits on moods and motivation in many areas of life. Another part of the good news: Wellspring works. 70% of Wellspring campers in a recent 8-12 month follow-up either maintained or continued losing weight after camp. The ones who do best have families who provide great support when campers come home.

2. Construct a simple decision balance sheet together.Have a sit-down and discuss the problems with being overweight – and some of the challenges of attempting to lose weight. Just talking through these points can help make the desire to change increase. For example:


Goal: To lose weight
Good Things About Doing This Challenging Things About Doing This
1. Look better 1. I’d feel like a failure if I don’t succeed
2. Feel better about myself 2. It will be frustrating sometimes
3. Get new clothes 3. Maybe I still won’t look too good
4. Get cuter clothes 4. It will be hard work
5. Fewer nasty comments 5. I might miss some foods
6. Look more attractive 6. Doing it will draw attention to me
7. Healthier, stronger 7. I’ll get tired
8. Parents, friends will be very proud 8.____________

3. Watch some success stories together. There are some great success stories on our Web sites:
Many will be inspired by these amazing transformations, and motivated to take action.

4. Contact Wellspring Admissions and get the name of former Wellspring students and campers from your area who will gladly talk to your son or daughter.