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Thursday, September 11, 2014

3 Things You Can Do Now to Promote a Positive Body Image for Kids

I'm fired up.  My news feed has been filled with disturbing images of little girls looking at fashion magazines lined with thin, beautiful models portrayed in a manner that suggests she feels bad about her body.  I'm so disgusted I'm not even going to repost it.

Along with those pictures is typically a paragraph or two about how sad of a world we live in that this happens to little girls so young.  There may even be a call to action to rid your house and life of these magazines, television shows, etc that continue to push these photoshopped images.  

We may have to agree to disagree here because I don't think that's the answer.  

Those "idealistic" images from the media only have as much power as you give them.  You're in control.  You're not the victim.   Sure, removing those type of images from your house may help for awhile but because you can't shield your child forever this shouldn't be your only defense.  

A while back I wrote a post about the connection between parent's and children's health.  One of the top contributing facts to child obesity is the parent's weight.  To put it simply, overweight parents are more likely to produce overweight children.  I'd have to think the same thing is true for body image.  Parents with poor body image produce children with poor body image.  Of course there is no scientific study (that I'm aware of) to prove this but when it comes to kids, it's generally a case of monkey see, monkey do.  

Would removing and/or limiting exposure to unrealistic, clearly photoshopped images and advertisements help?  Maybe, but you know what I think it more valuable?  Becoming a living, breathing, talking, walking example of positive body image yourself first.  

Stop trying to buy your kid's way to a healthy lifestyle via karate lessons and multivitamins and instead (or in addition to) live one yourself!  It's important for the both of you.  

I know this sounds good on paper but achieving a positive body image and exuding confidence can be hard to attain. I get it.  I've been there.  However, YOU are your child's first (and best) teacher they will ever have.  This needs to be a priority for the entire family (girls in the family or not).  

Weather you already feel comfortable in your own skin or spend most of you're time feeling less than you're best here are a three things you can start doing NOW to help promote a body positive atmosphere.  

Stop with the "f word":  Fat.  Stop using the word fat.  Stop calling yourself fat and stop referring to others as fat. Stop using it when they're around AND when they're not around.  I promise those little ears can hear a mile away.  Just stop.  

Let them see/hear about your exercise:  Take them to the gym with you.  Even if you drop them off at the gym nursery, it's important for them to see you making exercise a part of your daily routine.  Exercise as a family. Encourage them to watch you at a race or competition. Talk about your workout.  Share with them out great you feel when you're done.  Explain how you love your body and want to take care of it, keep it healthy so you exercise.  

Choose your words carefully: It's inhuman to feel confident all day every day.  I wouldn't expect that from myself and I certainly wouldn't expect it from my kids.  We all have days where we feel less than for whatever reason.  That's ok!  Talk it out.  Instead of, "I feel fat because I ate to much over the weekend so I'm going to go workout.", try, "I don't feel good about the food choices I made over the weekend.  I don't think I picked what was best for my body.  I'm looking forward to my workout to help me feel good."  Instead of "That food is bad for you.", try asking, "Is that a good choice for our body?" See the difference? 

Your turn:  What would you add to the list?  What can parents do NOW to promote a body positive atmosphere?  

1 comment:

  1. With a 15 year old daughter this is forever on my mind!