A recent U.S. study has found that young children who have a poor emotional bond with their mothers are twice as likely to become obese teenagers. 977 children were observed with their mothers at ages one, two, and three. Researchers assessed the mother's ability to recognize her child's emotions as well as her response to those emotions. They also looked at how much or little the child freely explored her environment.

Out of the 241 children who had the weakest relationship with their mothers, 24.7 percent grew to be obese teens, while only 13 percent of those who had the strongest relationships with their mothers became obese. The gap grew wider when income and maternal education were factored in. This study shows that learning to deal with emotions and stress, and feeling safe at a young age plays a role in how we handle these same issues later in life.

So Jillian Michaels is right! Obesity isn't just about food and exercise. Your child's emotional health is just as important to take care of.

1. Respond to Your Baby. Babies are connected to their mothers throughout pregnancy and well after birth. You can never spoil a baby. So don't be afraid to pick her up when she cries and cuddle her as much as possible while she is an infant. Babies don't cry to manipulate. They cry because they need something. Your baby could be scared, wet, hungry, tired, or lonely. No matter what, if you respond to her cry, she will learn to trust you, which will allow her to build strong relationships in the future.

2. Look Beyond the Act. Children act out for reasons that don't usually include a desire to be mean. Try to look beyond the naughty thing your child has done to understand why she did it. Children are learning how to deal with their emotions, and you are your child's teacher. Tell her what an appropriate response is and back it up through leading by example.

3. Celebrate more often than you discipline. Children want to please their parents. Don't just discipline when she does them wrong — celebrate when your child does things right. If she grabs a toy from her baby brother, give her the timeout you had warned her of. But when you notice her sharing with him, point it out and let her know how proud you are of her.

4. Don't hit. Despite the great debate over spanking, try and avoid it. Timeouts are a great way to discipline your children. It gives you both the time to think and calm down, allowing you to discuss why what she did was wrong while you are both better able to listen and talk.

5. Don't argue. Arguing with your spouse in front of your children is stressful for them. They can be frightened if your arguments are loud. Avoid arguing in front of them, but if you do, there are rules to follow to make sure your children understand that everything is okay.

6. Set routines and rules. Children thrive with routines and rules, so don't think that being the "fun parent" is a good idea. It is important for children to know what is coming next, whether it's time for school, time for a timeout, or time for bed. It's important to always follow through on the rules you have established. It allows them to trust their environment and feel safe.

7. Play together. A great way to build a solid relationship with your young child is to play together often. Turn off the TV and video games, which have negative effects, and just relax with your child. Play pretend, build with blocks, or read books.

8. Help her label her feelings. Teach your child about the feelings she experiences. When she is angry or sad, talk to her about why she is feeling that way and what she can do to express these feelings appropriately.

9. Give choices. Instead of just dressing your child for the day, give her the choice of two shirts to wear. This will give her a sense of control and help her develop her self-confidence.

10. Say "yes" more. Try to avoid saying no. Instead, when your child asks if she can eat a cookie, respond with, "Yes, right after you eat your apple."

11. Encourage. If your child is struggling to learn a new skill, such as using the potty or getting dressed, encourage her as much as possible. She may be feeling frustrated and if you get upset with her for having an accident or being too slow to put a shirt on, she will become more frustrated and her self-esteem will drop. Tell her you are proud of her every time she makes it to the potty and every time she gets her arms and legs in the right holes.

12. Know your child. It is important to understand your child's personality and to know your child's limits. Each of us handles situations differently in life. Pay attention to the signs your child shows of fear, stress, tiredness and hunger. Knowing why your child is getting cranky or acting out can help you address concerns and behavior appropriately and timely.

Young children need their mothers (and fathers) to teach them about handling their emotions and dealing with stress. Without being taught how to react correctly and safely, children are more likely to act out or use food as a stress reliever. And as studies show, this can lead to obesity. So as you care for your child's physical health, don't overlook their emotional health.