BY Rashmi Jalan
01 Mar 2023
Building a positive body image is crucial for kids, especially in their growing years. It forms their lifelong relationship with their bodies, self-esteem and eating habits.
What is Body Image
Body image is how a person sees and feels about their body. It can be influenced by their own beliefs and how people react around them. A positive body image helps your kid in many ways such as
Feeling good about their body
Developing confidence and security
Caring about their body in a healthy way
Being supportive of their peers about their body issues
Parent’s Role in Establishing Body Image
As a parent, you have an utmost important role in defining and establishing the right body image. Your kids will be influenced by media messages particularly social media, peers and other grown-ups in their lives. Most of these will be negative, holding a very narrow standard. All these will put a lot of pressure on them. You will need to build a confident and positive foundation for a healthy body and weight image.
Tips to Promote Positive Body Image in Kids
You can help your kid to inculcate the right attitude about body shape, weight, appearance, and food by following the tips given below:
Use positive language - When talking about looks, weight, or body issues avoid using negative or hurtful words. Do not give or encourage nicknames to people based on their appearance. Instead focus on using positive words and compliment people on their values and behaviour like kindness, cheerfulness, and patience.
Be a positive role model
Are you always talking about your dissatisfaction with your size, shape, or weight? Are you always on a diet for losing weight? Do you criticize other people based on their weight and looks? All these indicate a negative body image to your kids and they start emulating you in belief and language. Instead, focus on healthy eating and a fit body.
Talk about puberty - Kids undergo many physical and emotional changes during puberty. Make sure you explain that changes in weight and other physical attributes are normal. It will improve their self-esteem.
Explain media messaging - Media including social platforms have very narrow and skewed standards of beauty and fitness. You need to explain to your kids that media messaging is not the true representation of a healthy body and good looks. You can also talk about role models in your daily lives with everyday people based on skill, hard work, and kind nature.
Establish healthy eating habits
Make mealtimes fun and relaxed for your kids. Provide them with a variety of food with balanced nutrients. Teach them to focus on wholesome nutrition and hunger cues rather than weight loss or dieting. Discourage both overeating and starving and lead by example by following good eating habits with as little junk, processed and sugary foods as possible.
Limit social media
Social media often showcases very narrow and impossible standards of beauty and body. Kids are impressionable and it is pertinent that you limit their exposure to social media, especially for your teen children.
Promote physical activity - Encourage your kids to take part in physical activity whether any sports, exercises or even playing in the evening. It keeps them active and fit and promotes physical and mental health.
Encourage healthy friendships
Friends and peers are an integral part of how your kids view their body and self as. As a parent, you should know your kids’ friends. Have open and positive communication and show an active interest in their lives. Keep emphasizing the importance of good and healthy friendships that are based on mutual respect, love, and support.
Tackle bullying seriously - Bullying and teasing can lower the confidence of your kids and can have serious consequences. Not only peers and friends but even family members can be involved in promoting toxic body image.
Do not ignore if your kid is facing any bullying on their body shape, weight, or eating habits. Talk to teachers, school administration, or respective family members and put a stop to it. Also, make sure your kid is not bullying any of their friends or schoolmates.
Promoting healthy body image in children is important as it can help them develop a positive self-image and reduce the risk of developing a negative body image or disordered eating in the future. It's important to remember that children learn from the adults around them, so it's crucial to be a positive role model and lead by example.