“Look at those fat cheeks!” “I love those chubby thighs!” Kids hear these phrases from infancy. It starts off sweet and endearing when we praise our babies for being more plump, but with all the attention on size it can turn negative. As parents how can we teach kids to have a positive body image and not to focus on size? Here are 3 ways to help your child have a positive body image:
- Talk positively about your own body. Focus any discussion about your size, food choices, or activity level on how you want to be healthy. If something doesn’t fit, then don’t say “I’m fat.” or “I really need to lose weight.”, instead try “I need to focus on keeping my body healthy, so I feel good in my clothes.” At meal times talk about making healthy food choices. Model the behavior for your child by choosing healthy foods, working out and engaging in active fun with them!
- Be conscious of the words in the media and even books. Television is filled with positive and negative associations related to body image and size. It is pretty self explanatory that diet commercials are probably not the best way to fuel a positive body image, but the underlying message in television shows can be damaging too. Keep a close eye on what your child is viewing. More surprising, I have found numerous books that use words such as “fat”. Is there not another describing adjective for these books to use? I know some of our favorite books are dated, but some of the classic children’s authors liked to use that word! I have skipped this word when reading stories or substituted another word like “big”. Helping children develop the right vocabulary is a big part of the battle!
- Encourage your kids to choose healthy activities that keep them moving. Kids have TONS of energy! My kids often have too much energy and leave my head spinning. I have found that if I help them funnel their energy into activities that it helps everyone feel better! Include them in your workouts by choosing ones they can do too! One of our favorites is Fitness Blender Kids Workout on YouTube. (OR) Put on the latest hits and have a dance party. Take it up a notch by turning off the lights and giving all the dancers a glow stick. (OR) Enroll them in their favorite sport or organize a neighborhood game to play their favorite sport! Anything that keeps their body moving encourages them to be healthy and encourages them to feel good in their own skin! Plus, they feel proud of what they accomplished!
Help your child have the confidence to feel good in his or her own skin! Focus on health – NOT SIZE! Build them up! Develop family activities that allow you to spend time together being active. Good luck friends!