Between the magazines, music videos, popular tv shows and social media, girls and boys get a constant stream of messages that tell them what they should look like and what that need to do in order to achieve the perfect face and body. It’s not surprising that kids can feel like they fall short of expectations. With all of the pressure to be perfect, how can we instill a healthy body image in our children?
Talk to your children about media messages and the narrow standards they set. When a commercial highlights a particular body type, point it out and ask your children: What do you think the advertiser is saying here? What are they trying to get you to think? How do you feel about that? Savvy kids don’t fall for the hype that companies are trying to sell them.
Lead By Example
Highlight a positive, healthy body image yourself. Parents can’t simply follow a “Do As I Say, Not As I Do” mindset. So look in the mirror and speak to yourself as you would to a best friend instead of an enemy. Your child is watching. Eat in a balanced way that shows that you can eat healthy foods without dieting and indulge in a treat every once in a while without regret. Your child will follow your lead.
Celebrate What Your Body Can Do
Celebrate what our bodies can do, rather than how they look. Love to dance? Talk about how you love your strong legs because they allow you to do what you love. Do you do yoga? Point out your body’s increasing flexibility and how it feels after your class. What about running after your kids in the yard? Discuss how happy you are that your body allows you to play with your son or daughter in such an active way.
When we dive into the tough talks and show our children what positive body image looks like, we are teaching them that we can love ourselves just the way we are.