This is a particularly relevant issue for children. As they grow up it’s important to be aware of any issues that may develop around this subject and to be able to help support them with any rising insecurities.
Children’s bodies are constantly changing and they have to adjust to these changes which can be confusing. On top of this, they are bombarded with images of airbrushed and manipulated bodies which can set an unrealistic standard for children to live up to. This can put under pressure on children and potentially lead to issues with their body image.
Here are some things parents can do to encourage a positive body image for children.
Lead by example
Be mindful of your body. Look after and respect your body by eating a balanced diet and keeping active.
Show your children that you have a healthy relationship with your body and treat it with respect.
A good way to start off is to start the day with a nutritious family breakfast. This can be challenging in the morning rush but if you can make it part of the routine it will have enormous benefits for them - and you!
The power of words
Talk positively about your body. It’s hard to break some habits but try not to take the mickey of yourself or others around you by being sarcastic and critical of anything related to appearances.
Be mindful of negative language you use about your own body. Children will pick up on this and can learn to be self-critical too.
Be aware of what you say about others too. From discussing friends and family to complete strangers. People like to observe and comment, but make sure you pick up on things that you find positive rather than negative about others. Children will learn to think more positively about themselves and be less critical of their peers this way too!
Whilst speaking negatively about yourself, them or others can be damaging, positive terms will have a significant impact and help them to have a positive body image.
Heap on the praise
Be positive about them. Compliment them and encourage them on their attributes.
Don’t shy away from talking about bodies and appearance totally, but focus on the positive. Help them to feel confident by admiring their individuality.
Discuss what makes us uniquely amazing, from being double jointed or having freckles to the colour of our eyes.
Appreciate all the different types of beauty and help them develop self confidence and not feel inadequate or inferior.
Keep it in perspective
Our bodies are amazing tools, not just pretty packaging.
Emphasise to your children what incredible things their bodies are capable of. Encourage them to appreciate what their bodies enable them to do.
Help your child find an activity that they enjoy to keep them active and maintain this connection to one of the main purposes of their bodies.
Activities not only keep bodies healthier but boost our mental health too. Double benefits!
A healthy respect
Teach children to respect their bodies and to look after them.
It’s important to develop healthy attitudes to food in childhood. Educate children to make better food choices rather than force strict rules.
Try not to label foods as ‘good’ or ‘bad'. Instead, point out the foods that are great for boosting energy, ones that will notch up their brain power and those that will help their bones etc.
Of course, a bit of indulgence now and again isn’t a bad thing!
So these are our top tips for helping to promote a positive body image for children. Let us know how you boost your child’s confidence and mental health in the comments below.