How Can I Help My Child Develop A Positive Body Image?
Created by Nandini Muralidharan Updated on Jul 11, 2020
Meeta sat in the park and watched two young girls play badminton. They must have been ten or eleven, and they wore track pants that had 'Juicy' emblazoned proudly on the backside. Their eyebrows were not naturally fuzzy, like the ones that children of this age had, but neat black arches that looked obviously shaped.
Children as young as 9 to 10-year old are conscious about their looks, the shape of their bodies, and their weight. This might stem from the peer group, with the pressure to look a certain way is high, or even at home. And the responsibility of making her develop a positive body image is yours.
Ways to Make Your Child Develop Positive Body Image
Magazines are splashed with images of unrealistically thin-looking models, and popular media is filled with music and videos promoting a certain type of body. Here's how you can help your child see through that and develop a positive body image-
Body image issues begin earlier than you think, in children. Well before they're sullen teenagers, tweens start thinking about weight and appearances. Set the tone for a healthy body image at home, and be supportive of your child. Watch for signs such as not eating at all, or overeating, which might signal eating disorders. Shower your child with plenty of love, hugs that they might resist, and kind words. Teach them that being healthy is what counts. [Also Read: Positive Parenting - Hows & Whys Of It]
You Are Your Child's First Role Model
Remember you are a role model for your child and she will pick everything from you – your style of walking, talking and how you look at yourself as an individual. So before you utter a negative comment about yourself or your physical attributes think twice or thrice.
- Stop whining at the dinner table about the number of calories the kheer has, or about the new crash diet you are planning on trying. Children don't need to get these messages from you.
- Spread a message of diversity. Explain why bodies are different, and why health matters more than anything.
Watch-out What Your Child Watching on TV & Talk About It
A lot of what a child perceives as the "correct" weight or look is what she sees on TV. There are parts of popular shows that work mainly because they glamorize the body, and this is what a child picks up.
- Watch TV with your child, and try telling her that it's rather silly that the actor is so obsessed with her hair or her legs. Ask them if they think the character is intelligent or kind
- When your child looks at pictures of models in magazines, talk to her about how the pictures are airbrushed just to show off a certain type of body
Exercise Should Be A Part of Daily Routine
Focusing on health, rather than appearance with setting the foundation for your child's being comfortable with his body.
- Make sure your child gets plenty of outdoor activity. Explain to them that exercise will make them stronger and fitter
- Have them choose fun ways of exercising like a sport, or gymnastics, or dance. This way, children are made aware that human bodies are not all about physical attributes and that the healthier they are, the happier they will be
Keep An Eye on What Your Child Wears
While we all want our children to have the freedom of dressing the way they like, a certain amount of parental monitoring is necessary, simply because you don't want your ten-year-old daughter wondering if her bottom is 'Juicy'. Children don't need to wear revealing clothes to the playground. They need to be dressed comfortably enough for all the activities that they participate in
Always Dad, Get Involved
As children grow from being the cuddly 3-year-olds into more self-aware primary school-going children, dads tend to take a step back from being too expressive. But dads, please compliment your child, especially your daughter on not her looks, but all her positive attributes. And make sure you show your appreciation for your wife when your child is present. Your child needs to know that you care about the real stuff.
Did you find these tips useful? If you have any experience to share about how you helped your child be comfortable with his body, do share it with us in the comments section!
| Oct 03, 2017
very informative blog Nandini Muralidharan ! thanks for sharing! I completely agree we are our children's role models and whatever we say or do has a great impact on their psyche. we need to be very careful in our choice of words and expression .coming to my own case for my girls their father's opinion on how they look carries a lot of weightage. thanks again !