5 ways to promote a Positive Body Image in your child

Children and body image - ZenParent

Our children are growing up in a tough world.  Every single day they are bombarded with advertisements like “Fair and Lovely” and diet pills. Every glossy magazine has ridiculously skinny photo shopped models with seemingly flawless skin and perfect complexion.  It can seem almost as if the world is out to tell you that you are imperfect in some way or the other. Therefore it becomes even more important for parents to counter this influence by giving them a more grounded environment at home that focuses on the right things. Here are a few things you can do to ensure that your child has the right body image.

1. Don’t comment on their looks: You are what you “think” you are. A lot of times, girls usually imagine themselves fatter and boys imagine themselves skinnier than they really are. These are because of the messages that they keep receiving from the environment around them. As parents we need to be extra conscious about what we tell our children. Avoid saying “you look fat/skinny in this outfit”; “don’t wear shorts because your legs are too skinny” etc.  You might think you are giving good fashion advice for your kids, but these comments make them feel defensive about their body.

2. Praise what is inside: When complementing your children, try to stress on their achievements instead of their external appearance. What you focus on will be perceived as important by your children. Focus on sports, academics, health, exercise and your children will subconsciously absorb those values as more important.

3. Don’t tease: Sometimes even family members with the best of intentions call kids “fatty” or “Moti” imagining that they are being affectionate. But some kids are more sensitive than others and can take it to heart and become extra conscious of these names. These sometimes get them into unhealthy practices like dieting in their teenage years when nutrition is super critical.

4. Discourage weighing often: If you have a weight conscious child, it might even be a good idea to get rid of that weighing machine you have at home. Focus on cooking healthy food, encourage playing of a sport, take up any physical activity with your child and discourage frequent weighing of themselves. It only aggravates any body image issues.

5. Model it: Children’s values in life are largely imbibed from their parent’s values when they are young. When kids see you giving too much importance to looks and commenting on your own or other people’s size and shape, they start believing that these things are very important. As difficult as it may be, we parents need to be conscious of what we speak about others and how we refer to other people, because our children are watching us closely. Even if you are worried about your own weight , do not share it out loud when your children can see you.  Lead by example.

Success in life is largely an attitude and age, weight, height, skin tone, facial features, are all factors that mean nothing as long as you have the right positive attitude that makes you deal with anything that life throws your way with aplomb. Encourage a positive attitude about their bodies in your children and continuously focus away from the physical body, unless it is about health.  We live in an increasingly superficial world about selfies, facebook likes, photoshopped glossy magazines and impossible standards of perfection.  Let us make an effort to keep our children grounded and secure in who they are by constantly reiterating on what is really important – their health and happiness.

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