There is much more to our bodies than simply how they look. Teaching this to our children takes a bit of work in a generation controlled by social media, filters, and misconceptions about body image.
It’s difficult being a preteen or teenager who faces pressure from friends and society to be and look a certain way. This search for what is deemed "perfection" can have an impact on our kids' self-esteem and mental wellbeing. What can we do to support our pre-teens and their body image?
Focus On What Our Bodies Can Do
Social media, magazines, and TV shows have long had a negative way of promoting bodies and the way we should look. The media has been called out on this routinely and the discussion around body image is slowly changing.
However, our younger kids are still growing up in an age where the focus is on beauty and the ideal body shape. Change the story for your kids by talking about what our bodies can do instead of just how they look. Talk about our Olympic Winners whose bodies are strong and talented, celebrate what our bodies can do whether that is through strength, confidence, intelligence, or creativity.
Be Conscious Of How You Talk About Food And Body Image
Looking in the mirror do you find fault and pick out the parts of your body where you want to lose weight or tone up? Our kids can easily pick up on these thoughts and piece them together and believe a perfect body should be a particular size or weight. Be conscious of how you talk about body image and food with friends, family, and your kids. Encourage a narrative that promotes positive body image and healthy eating.
Compliment Your Kids
It is easy to say, "You look beautiful", but complementing our children for their talents and abilities can have a greater impact as we let them know that there is much more to them than what they look like. It helps to promote their self-worth and confidence.
The Fluctuations Of Puberty
Puberty is a trying time for any adolescent (and parent). Hormones can contribute to weight gain over these years and preteens can be left feeling insecure and vulnerable when it comes to their bodies. It’s a time when they may begin to become more focused on what they look like and how they dress. Keep the conversation open about growing up, the changes taking place in their bodies, and guide them during this transition with compliments not based on their body.
Be A Good Role Model
Children learn from us, and they are always listening. Be a good role model by promoting your own positive body image. Make exercise, healthy eating, and talking to your pre-teens about positive body image a norm in your household.