Building Body Image: 4 Tips to Teach Your Kids

Whether it’s a desire to lose weight, get 6-pack abs or have the perfect nose, we hear about it a lot these days.  The majority of girls and more boys than ever want to change something about their bodies and their looks.  How can we help to instill positive body image into our children?

(1)  Provide your children with a variety of healthy role models of different weights and shapes:  Whether it’s your great aunt sally or the gym teacher at school, ensure that your children know that beauty, health and attractiveness do not come in one size.

(2)  Celebrate yourself: It’s not enough to only stop complaining about your own body;  we must also compliment ourselves and show pride in our bodies.  What you say becomes the script running through your child’s mind.

(3)  Talk about what a body can do: Instead of focusing on looks, ask your child– what amazing thing did your body allow you to do today? Make sure to share your answer, too! Whether it’s dancing, playing football or jumping rope, our bodies afford us the ability to do our favorite things.  We must celebrate that!

(4)  Discuss health over size:  A healthy body is formed when we eat healthy foods, drink enough water, get enough sleep, exercise daily and blow off stress in productive ways.  Wherever your body falls after doing these healthy behaviors (barring any medical issues) is exactly where it should be.  Ensure your children understand what health really looks like.

Keep the conversations flowing as your children grow while remaining a positive, powerful example. And remember, body image is formed over time rather than in one day.

I’m Dr. Robyn Silverman for KnowMoretv.  Live smart, be healthy, know more.

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About the author

Dr. Robyn Silverman

Dr. Robyn Silverman is a child/teen development specialist, body image expert, sought-after speaker and award-winning writer. She graduated with her Ph.D. from Tufts University’s prestigious applied child/teen development program. She is known for her no-nonsense and positive approach to helping young people and their families thrive. Her ground-breaking research at Tufts University on young women is the foundation for her book, Good Girls Don’t Get Fat: How Weight Obsession Is Messing Up Our Girls & How We Can Help Them Thrive Despite It (Harlequin Press).