A positive body image is vital in nurturing a child’s self-esteem and confidence. The way they view their bodies helps them forge healthy relationships with themselves and the people around them. If they are happy with how they look and how their body moves and grows, they are more assured of themselves and stay in a better mental state.
However, media is continually feeding children with unrealistic body images, and impressionable children might think that the body types of celebrities and TV personalities are the only acceptable ones. They might feel bad about not fitting this mold.
As a parent, you are a powerful force in crafting a positive body image among your kids and combating the unhealthy stereotypes seen in media. Here are a few steps to help you guide your children towards a healthy body image.
Strive for a Healthy Body Image for Yourself, Too
Parents are the number one influence on a child, which is why a healthy mindset starts at home. A child won’t be able to form a positive body image if their parents also hate the way they look.
Building a positive image takes time, however, and you don’t have to force yourself to love your body completely. It’s understandable that adults still experience body image issues now and then. But while you work on your body image issues, you can still model a healthy self-image in front of your children. Remember, your kids are watching and listening to everything you do. A mindless comment from you can stay in a child’s mind for years.
Verbalizing your healthy choices is a great way to start. For instance, you can say that “I ate too much sweets this morning, so I’d eat more vegetables tonight,” or “Running feels nicer in the morning.” You can still quietly work on your issues-combat hair loss with organic shampoo, fight acne with good skincare, lose weight by burning more than you eat-but be careful about making self-deprecating comments or verbalizing unreasonable worries about your body in front of children.
Focus on Health and Wellness
Shift the focus from weight to health. Children need to understand that bodies come in all shapes and sizes, but they must be healthy-their bodies are fit and get all the nutrients they need from a balanced diet. Instead of obsessing over numbers on the scale, children should concentrate on making good food choices and fun physical activities. There’s often no need to work out because children run around and play with their friends, siblings, and pets.
How parents frame the message is important-a positive spin on health messages is encouraged. For instance, instead of saying, “Don’t eat chocolate,” children would respond better if they are told, “Eat healthy desserts.” Moreover, no child wants to exercise if it’s presented as a chore, so be creative and present fun physical activities, like dancing or playing basketball in the yard.
Helping your kids embrace body positivity is a tall order, but these small steps will go a long way. By laying a strong foundation of healthy points of view, you are making your child more mentally resilient and well-equipped to face life’s challenges.