Our body image is how we feel about our bodies, and as parents, we should be feeding our children with a positive attitude and open up conversations around unrealistic expectations. Many societal factors play a huge part in body image, and it can be hard to shield them from it, and of course, no matter what weight or size you are, children feed off our negative views.
So if you are looking to encourage and foster a healthy body image in kids from a young age, here are some things you can do promote body positivity:
Watch your words
How you talk and feel about your own body can have a powerful influence on your kids. Avoid sending negative messages by talking about your weight and body parts you may not like. You are their biggest role model, and they want to be just like you. By pushing these thoughts, they might follow in your footsteps.
Scan their toys
The media and our culture can play a significant effect on the idea of beauty and body proportions. Have a look in your kid’s room and scan their toys. Certain dolls like Barbie, for example, can give impressionable young girls a very skewed and unrealistic expectation of a woman’s body. After all, she is famous for her exaggerated body and proportions.
Chat with your child about unrealistic images they may see on TV. Social media and magazines also show a majority of models bodies retouched and photoshopped, so they appear “perfect”. Talk about how people use certain angles and filters to make themselves look more attractive.
Whenever possible, make positive comments about other people. Beauty comes in all shapes, sizes and colour. Wear the dress, wear the swimsuit, and don’t hide behind your bursting wardrobe. Wear your confidence and share the vital message of accepting your body no matter how it looks.
Fat is not a feeling
If your child ever tells you they feel fat, ask them what it means. Try to find the truth behind their words. Are they being bullied? Are they feeling insecure? Fat is not a feeling, and they might be using the word “fat” to hide other negative thoughts or feelings about themselves.
Talk about nutrition, not calories
From a young age, teach your child, there is no such thing as good food or bad food. By drawing too much attention to food groups, you can open up a world of issues for certain foods and of course, dieting. Talk about how food is fuel and that even food high in calories and low in nutrition still has a place in our diet.
Dealing with weight
If you are worried your child might be overweight, and it’s holding them back, instead of putting them on a strict diet, increase the amount of physical activity they do and offer a wider variety of healthy foods. Never comment on their body or criticise how they look. Move all conversation away from their body and compliment them about their character instead.
Call out others
And finally, it’s one thing to banish negative body talk in your own home, but unfortunately, these negative messages can happen anywhere. Don’t allow family or friends to engage in fat-shaming or stigmatise weight in any shape or form. Call out their unacceptable behaviour for what it is; it should not be tolerated no matter how close you may be to that person.