You look in the mirror and grimace—“Ugh, I look so fa”….but, hold on a minute. There is a little person just outside the door taking it all in, so it quickly mutates in to, “I look so FABULOUS!” as you launch into a silly dance and invite her to join in.
We know that our children will be exposed to countless images of beautiful people with beautiful bodies living seemingly perfect lives. We all want our children to have strong, healthy bodies that let them explore and enjoy the world, but often, they (and we) are made to feel that our bodies aren’t good enough, that they aren’t beautiful enough. This pressure can make us feel badly about ourselves, and we can unconsciously pass these negative feelings on to our children.
There are some simple things that we can do to make sure that our children have confidence in themselves and feel comfortable in their bodies.
- Set a good example. Children will copy your behaviour (especially if you don’t want them to!). Make sure that you don’t speak negatively about your own body or anyone else’s. Instead, use positive language about being active, healthy and confident rather than negative language about losing weight or cutting out the “bad” things
- Notice and praise positive things about your child and others that are not about appearance: You were so kind when you helped your brother put away his toys; I really like being around your grandma—she always makes us laugh…
- If you are feeling unhappy with your fitness, your diet or your general well-being, try to find some simple things to do to get active and healthy with your child. Introduce a new vegetable at dinner time or start walking home from school
- As with almost everything in parenting, keep the lines of communication open. Notice if your child is speaking a lot about their own appearance or that of others, and make sure that they feel comfortable talking to you about any anxiety they feel about their body. Let them talk about how they feel while encouraging them to see the positive things about themselves.