Cultivating a Healthy Body Image in Children
The health and appearance of our body can change throughout our life. Body image or how we think and feel about our body is very important. A positive body image is associated with better body care and improved self-confidence. Unfortunately, body dissatisfaction impacts about 90% of women and girls and between 40-60% of men and boys. It has been seen in children as young as five years old.
Parents and caregivers can play an important role in promoting a positive body image. Here are a few tips for promoting a positive body image in your home.
- Avoid Negative Body Talk: Negative comments about your own body and appearance are heard by your children. Consider how your own body image impacts your ‘self-talk’ and attitudes about food and physical activity. If you need support on improving your own body image seek professional counseling. Be a positive role model by practicing more self-acceptance regarding your own body and maintaining healthy attitudes about food and physical activity.
- Talk about Body Changes: The body changes throughout our lifetime with puberty often being one of the first big milestones that your child will experience. Helping your child understand that the body changes throughout our life is not only healthy but normalizes the aging process.
- Accept that Healthy Bodies Come in Different Shapes and Sizes: Even in families with the same parents children may often have very different body types. Promoting treating your body well by fueling it with a variety of nourishing foods and finding physical activity that is enjoyable is important for everyone. Avoid treating a higher weight child differently than other children in the family in terms of food provided, etc. The entire family benefits from eating a balance of healthy foods as well as occasional treats and desserts.
- Focus Less on Appearance and More on Abilities: Promote activities that your child enjoys. Cultivate a positive self-esteem by focusing on skills and abilities instead of physical appearance.