As a parent, you are your child’s first role model and the biggest influence in their lives. So what you do and say matters.
Kids are like sponges, they absorb everything provided to them by the environment and that includes our actions. Our attitudes towards ourselves and others imprint on them and can provoke the occurrence of certain beliefs as early as toddlerhood. We as parents play a very important role in helping build a healthy body image in our children that will make them appreciate and love their bodies. It’s never too early to start! In fact, if we start early we can help build a healthy self-esteem and in turn favor our children’s emotional and social well-being.
How do I foster a positive body image in my child?
- Model a positive body image: Avoid making negative comments about your body or the bodies of others. Do not complain about your body in front of your kid or have him or her observe you act negatively towards your body. Your actions have power and if you are not careful those attitudes can be internalized by your child.
- Provide specific compliments: Although it’s okay to tell your little one they are beautiful and great, don’t forget to emphasize their specific actions and qualities, not just their physical appearance. Try to complement their bodies on what they do and their effort instead of just their looks. You could tell your little one “Wow, look at how strong your body is, you learned to run.” Or “With your effort you learned to put your shirt on all by yourself.”
- Promote physical activity: Being active has a direct impact on health and well-being so provide fun activities that get your little one moving inside and outside the house. Go on a nature hunt or have a dance party. It doesn’t matter what you do, what’s important is that the activity you do is enjoyable, fun, and a natural part of everyday life.
- Provide healthy food options and a positive attitude towards food: Focus on making healthy meals and tasty snacks instead of restricting or labeling foods. Avoid telling your little one “this food is good or bad”, but teach them about the benefits you get from eating certain specific foods. Moreover, label treats as “sometimes” foods that can be enjoyed in small amounts and healthy foods as “all the time” foods that provide energy and help us grow.
- Invite your little one to participate in independence boosting activities: Ask your little one to help out in the kitchen, have your little one help out during laundry time, teach him or her to get dressed, give him or her two or three options of clothing to wear. When children participate in independence boosting activities their self-esteem and autonomy grows and makes them feel good about themselves. This, in turn, creates a positive view of themselves.
There is lots you can do to help your little one grow up confident and secure. Hope these tips help! Let us know in the comment section your favorite ways to build a positive body image in your child.
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