Building A Better Body Image: 4 Ways to Boost Yours and Your Kids’ Self-Worth
By K. Parker
How many moms out there deal with low self-worth and body image issues? I know too many to count. We live in a world where that’s very much a sad, sick rite of passage thrust upon moms, putting yourself down and looking for ways to better yourself. In the end, you never feel like you’re enough.
We can do better than this for ourselves and our kids! Let’s learn to love what our bodies can do and show this to our children. Showing them that you feel so down on yourself tells them that this is how they should feel about themselves as well. As a new mom myself, I want to do the opposite as I raise my daughter.
Here are a few ways to help boost your own self-esteem and help prepare your kids to fight back against these pressures in the first place:
Don’t let negative thoughts run rampant
My mom always struggled with her self-esteem and body image. I watched her go on diet after diet, and never see herself as the beautiful woman we kids saw her to be. Having this example to live by, it made me see myself the same way by the age of 13 or younger. Even now, I struggle with my self-image from all those years of feeling that way. My mom tried her best, but she was often so down on herself, it was hard not to see. And not to mimic.
If you find yourself constantly putting yourself down for your size or other “imperfections,” nip that in the bud now. Nothing tears you down faster than negative thoughts directed towards yourself. It’s time to focus on replacing our negative thoughts with positive, healthy ones.
- Practice positive self-talk. Write sticky notes to remind you. Put a reminder in your phone. Make a list of all the amazing things your body can do and share them with other moms.
- Encourage the women around you to be positive and say nice things about themselves. By teaching others to be positive about their bodies it will reinforce your ability to do so for yourself as well. Think of the revolution we could create if we learned to like our bodies!
- When complimenting or praising your kids, focus not just on appearance, but on personality traits, on intelligence, kindness, work ethic, and so forth.
- When posting on social media, do not over filter your photos or crop them in such a way that only shows an ideal you think others want to see. Be an example to others of liking yourself just the way you are.
A focus on appearance alone instigates that unhealthy relationship with your body, and that’s what we want to avoid teaching our children in the first place.
Be grateful for your body and what it can do
What amazing things has your body done? Well, if you gave birth to your child, a major one is to create life.
- Think of the strength in your arms and legs as you care for your kids. Or work hard everyday to accomplish your goals. Our bodies are miraculous. For me, I like how long and healthy my hair is, I like how my body feels when I go running, I think my eyes are pretty, and I’m grateful for my stocky build that lets me utilize the strength I have.
- Try writing down at least five things each day that your body can do.
- Do this with your kids, show them our bodies are something to be grateful for.
Improve your relationship with food
A lot of the time, an issue of weight is the cause of an unhealthy relationship with food. Extreme dieting tends to make such a relationship worse, not better.
- Focus more on health and what’s actually good for you without depriving yourself in the extreme. That extreme mentality always seems to result in bouncing back and giving in to cravings in excess.
- Portion control and activity are almost always the most effective in maintaining health. Work with your doctor to find what will work best for your unique body.
- Bring the whole family in to try eating healthier and doing healthy activities together.
- Join a body-positivity group of other moms dedicated to overall health and not just weight loss. These can often be found on Facebook or other platforms. If you can’t find one, try starting one yourself!
Don’t compare yourself to others
This is especially prevalent with online media. Ads and actors and social media stars looking perfect in each post are not a realistic view of a person! Comparing your struggle to someone’s filtered, curated, unrealistic images isn’t fair to yourself. Much of this media is designed to tear you down and sell you something to make a profit. The important part of this scheme is to tear you down in the first place so that you may think if you buy a certain beauty product or clothing item that your life will be better. Don’t let these false comparisons continue anymore. And educate your kids to see past counterfeit media messages and to be happy as themselves.
- When you slip up and say something mean to yourself, stop and then replace that thought with a compliment to yourself.
- Think well of the person you might compare yourself to. Compliment them outloud or just in your head, but avoid thoughts that they have something you wish you had.
- Understand that someone else’s successes or good looks do NOT diminish you or your successes.
- Avoid media that might set you into these negative thoughts about yourself.
The only way to lift our kids up and give them a better chance against the world trying to tear them down is to lift ourselves up and teach them from the start. Don’t let feelings of poor self-worth add to what the world already wants to do to them. Be better not just for your kids, but for yourself as well.
Ready to chat with your kids about healthy body image? Check out our books Messages About Me: Sydney’s Story, A Girl’s Journey to Healthy Body Image and Messages About Me: Wade’s Story, A Boy’s Quest To Healthy Body Image for a great story, discussion questions, and activities to build up your child while you journey to build yourself up as well.
K. Parker is a writer and editor for Educate and Empower Kids, and a graduate from Brigham Young University-Idaho in Professional Studies in English. She is excitedly pursuing a career in copy editing as she grows her little family.