4 Simple Ways to Work Together With Our Kids for a Healthy Body Image

4 Simple Ways to Work Together With Our Kids for a Healthy Body Image

 

By Courtney Cagle

 

Most of us have struggled with body image at one point or another. I remember struggling a lot my first year of college. Being away from home, around lots of other beautiful girls, and not receiving the compliments about my looks that I received often at home was hard for me. I started to feel that I wasn’t pretty enough, my legs weren’t skinny enough, my breasts were too small, and the list goes on and on. So, how did I overcome this? Well, I didn’t completely–I don’t think anyone ever does. I still sometimes struggle with body image, but it’s something that I’m getting better at.

Parents often worry about body image when it comes to their kids. But don’t worry! We can help our kids feel better about their bodies, but it does take some mental work from them and lots of love from us.

Here are 4 ways you and your children can work toward healthy body image:

1) Make a list of all of your wonderful attributes (at least 10!). If you make a list of the qualities and attributes that you possess that aren’t related to your looks, it will make you feel more confident in yourself and your abilities. You are unique and have so much to offer that isn’t related to the way you look. Understand that looks aren’t everything.

Questions you can ask to start a great discussion:

What is your favorite quality about yourself?

What is something you are good at?

Why am I loveable?

What are all the ways that I help others?

2) Look in the mirror and tell yourself that you love yourself just the way you are. This might feel silly at first, but I promise that it helps. It’s prevents you from looking in the mirror and criticizing yourself and instead helps you to accept yourself. At first, you won’t believe yourself, but over time, you actually believe what you’re saying in the mirror.

Questions you can ask to start a great discussion:

When you look in the mirror, what do you usually say?

How does it make you feel?

When you look in the mirror and tell yourself you love yourself, how does it make you feel?

3) Be media literate and deconstruct images you view. Media literacy is defined as the ability to analyze and evaluate media. Being media literate helps kids and adults to understand what the media is trying to portray. When we deconstruct images, we take them apart and evaluate their purpose. This helps us foster a positive body image because it allows us to see the tricks the media uses and makes us realize that many of the images we see are unrealistic.

Questions you can ask to start a great discussion:

Look at an ad with your child. What is it trying to sell? Why do ads try to sell perfection?

Look at a magazine together. Does the person on the cover look like any real people you know? Why or why not?

Visit our Kids Activity Page for related exercises!

4) Accept your strengths and weaknesses. We ALL have weaknesses. We ALL have strengths. It’s good to recognize your weaknesses, but don’t dwell on them. Focus on your strengths. Understand that it’s okay to have weaknesses because we all do, but don’t let that fill your mind with negative thoughts. You have wonderful strengths that you can utilize. Maybe you don’t see them at the moment, but you will (Halsted, 2016). Ask a family member or a friend to list a strength they see in you, then hold onto that and remind yourself. Don’t focus on the way you look or the way others see you. Instead, focus on the strengths you have and what you bring to the table.

Questions you can ask to start a great discussion:

What are some of your perceived weaknesses ?

How can weaknesses help to make you stronger?

Do I focus on my weaknesses too much?

What are some of your strengths?

How can you use them in your life?

Teach your kids that they have much to offer besides their body. Our bodies have many abilities that have nothing to do with our size, shape, or the way we look. We can work through negative body image by using these steps and applying them to life on a daily basis. Help children to understand this and if you are struggling with body image, use these tips in your life too!

For more information on teaching your kids about body image, check out our books on body image. To discuss this topic with boys, check out Messages About Me: Wade’s Story, A Boy’s Quest for Healthy Body Image. To discuss this topic with girls, check out Messages About Me: Sydney’s Story, A Girl’s Journey to Healthy Body Image.

For more ideas about discussing media literacy check out this podcast or our read-along book, Petra’s Power to See.

Courtney is a senior at Brigham Young University-Idaho graduating in Marriage and Family Studies. She loves kids and wants to help create a safe environment for all children to learn and grow.

 

Citations:

Alexander, D. (2018, April 24). A Lesson About Media Literacy. Retrieved June 15, 2018, from https://educateempowerkids.org/lesson-media-literacy/?nabe=4694234694418432:1,6638898712412160:0

Halsted, E. (2016, February 22). How to Have a Positive Body Image. Retrieved June 15, 2018, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/contemporary-psychoanalysis-in-action/201602/how-have-positive-body-image

Wardenburg Health Services. (2018, January 16). Healthy Buffs: Developing a positive body image. Retrieved June 15, 2018, from https://www.colorado.edu/today/2017/11/15/healthy-buffs-developing-positive-body-image