Four Ways to Instill a Healthy Body Image in Your Children
By Emily Krause
In today’s media-saturated world, it can be difficult to sustain a healthy body image. We are constantly being bombarded with images of “physical perfection”, which can take a toll on self-confidence and self-worth. This negative effect is greatest among our youth. In the world of social media, the “selfie” with just the right angles and perfect filters allows children to alter their appearance, which sends a strong and unhealthy message that a “perfected appearance” is the norm. It is so important to teach our children to have a healthy body image, if we can instill these practices early on, they will reap the benefits for the rest of their lives.
Teach that healthy body image does not mean having a perfect appearance
Help children and teens understand that they do not have to be in “perfect shape” to like their bodies. Encourage them to accept themselves as they are, and to recognize that no one person on the earth has a “perfect body”. Assist them to find things they love about their body and to consider all their body can do, not just what their bodies looks like.
Set goals regarding abilities rather than appearance
Your children are so much more than their appearance: their goals should be too! Center their thoughts on how amazing their minds are, and of how much they are capable. Help them to create an all encompassing form of self love that does not revolve around body-focused goals.
Show respect to all types of bodies
Children are greatly impacted by the example their parents set regarding body image. It is critical in teaching healthy body image to be aware of how you speak about others and your own body. Be positive. Body shaming others and yourself is a powerful model that children and teens will follow. It can create negative self image when kids .. pick up on those negative judgements and internalize them. We should be showing our children that everyone deserves respect. Over time, our bodies reflect all of the amazing and noteworthy things we have done in our lives. Highlighting this fact to your children will eventually trickle into their own visions of themselves and others. Seeing the beauty in the diversity of every single body shows that even if they are different than the images they see in the media, they are completely, 100% beautiful!
Buy clothes you actually enjoy wearing
It may not seem like it, but the clothes you buy have an enormous impact on how you view yourself. Feeling content in what you are wearing can go a long way. This easily transfers to you being a completely intrepid woman. Once again, our kids pick up on everything. Investing in body-positive companies has the potential to completely change how you feel about yourself. And with that shows your kids another great example to better love themselves.
*True & Co. is a company who offers bras that are formed to your body. They have a specific mission to make every woman feel confident in their own skin. They even provide an extensive quiz to select your actual bra size..
*There are also companies that are tailored specifically for your children’s changing body shapes. The Children’s Place and Land’s End have clothes for kids of all sizes. They even offer a section of extended sizes so a child of any shape or form can feel self-assured when they leave the house
Create an affirmations journal
It is very easy to slip into a bad habit of self-hate. Focusing on your flaws rather than your great qualities is something we are all guilty of! A great example you can set for your kids, is keeping an affirmations journal. Showing them that you can speak to yourself with love and appreciation will inspire them to do the same. It only takes a few minutes every day to write out the things you’re proud of and positive thoughts about yourself. This can include your work, or even just something that made you feel good that day. By simply changing your self talk from negative patterns or harsh thoughts, to positive statements about yourself and your day will create a healthy environment for you and your child to thrive in!
Including these practices in our everyday lives can build the kind of inclusivity children need to see. Create a diverse set of images and role models for women and children everywhere. Let the world know who your true self is and you are not afraid to show it!
Check out the following books that can help children better under body positivity: