Teaching Body Positivity to Your Kids
No person is really safe from the bombardment of targeted advertisement that creates unrealistic standards of beauty. Hating our bodies is not unique to adulthood, children are also in danger of developing a negative view of themselves. Considering that we’ve seen a rise of eating disorder cases among children in the last 20 years, it is important that we address body positivity issues early on.
When children have a positive view of themselves, their self-esteem and self-worth are high. Imagine preschool children having body positivity issues (which has been documented), if their problems are not addressed, they will grow up to be adolescents with eating disorders. Now imagine those adolescents growing up to be adults, wondering why they have low self-esteem and feel utterly worthless.
It is therefore crucial that we take action to stop children from obsessing over their weight and looks. Even though it may seem difficult to stop children from accessing the internet and being influenced by social media, we can still have a positive impact in their lives.
Emphasize health instead of looks. Unlike adults, children’s bodies are still growing and developing. There’s no point in worrying about your children’s calories – or stressing them out
about their weight. Instead, it’s better to teach them about the importance and value of a healthy life, which will allow them to grow into strong adolescents and eventually happier adults.
Show them that one can have a healthy relationship with food. Children are sensitive and should not be made to feel like they are bad kids for eating junk food. Telling them that one food is “bad” while another is “good” may cause anxiety and may further motivate them to starve themselves, thus losing out on important nutrients. It’s better to teach them about the vitamins and nutrients in foods that will help them grow stronger bones, teeth, gums, eyesight, brain, etc. This will encourage them to look out for themselves instead of making them feel like they are intrinsically good or bad based on the food they eat.
Teach them how to deal with bullies. Unfortunately, bullies are inevitable – but you can definitely prepare your child for them. If a child becomes withdrawn and develops a sense of inferiority, it will affect their self-perceived body image. However, if you teach children to love themselves, they will be comfortable with who they are and will thus be able to remain strong against a bully’s choice of words.
Remind them frequently about the value of accepting one’s self. In the end, everyone is unique and we are way better off embracing our “flaws” and focusing on the positive things we have to offer. Children should be taught this everyday through words of encouragement. If you create a nurturing environment for them to grow, they will grow up loving themselves and be better equipped to ignore the unrealistic standards of beauty that the media promotes.