As parents we don’t ask for much. Happy, healthy kids… that’s it. Luckily we are living in a time when self-love and being body-positive is priority, but at the same time, this is the era of social media, shares, and a strong desire to be accepted.
We want body-positive kids! When they love their body, they love themselves, and self-worth oozes out of their person. This self-worth leads to success in academics, extra curricular activities, and eventually helps them thrive in future careers.
So, how does one raise a body-positive child?
Be their biggest influence! We want to raise them to love themselves, but we have our own insecurities that, let’s face it, sometimes are hard to keep hush about. Nobody loves their body completely, but being kind to your temple will translate to her or him. Try to see yourself through their eyes; you’re beautiful, loving, nurturing. You make up their entire existence and nothing is possible without you. Take all that and own it!
Nurture a good relationship with food. Young people, especially girls, are terrified of food.Take them grocery shopping. Offer healthy choices all the time so that they don’t need the junk. Involve them in the kitchen; kids LOVE eating things that they have helped prepare. Be sure to include things you know they will eat in their lunch. Never force them to eat, but set an example of you yourself making healthy choices when it comes to the food you eat.
Beginning from a young age, children should be encouraged to take part in physical activity. This can be as simple as outings to the park, bike rides, swimming date with friends, or exploring new hiking trails as a family. As they get a little older they may join a team, or a karate class. Obviously not everyone is athletically inclined, and a sure way to make one self-conscious about themselves is to force them into a sport they just aren’t feeling. Model an active life. Make exercise a constant presence in your daily routine (now you’re getting healthier too, everyone wins)!
Please, Don’t Ignore the Boys!!
They need the reassurance just as much as the girls, and while they face different demons, they must not be overlooked. Media is constantly depicting unrealistic body types, and young boys are desperate to add up to the macho figure that they are made to strive for. Eating disorders are different for boys than they are for girls. Instead of wanting to be thinner they become obsessed with getting bigger. The root of this obsession may come from peers, coaches, or extended family.
Feeling comfortable in one’s skin is essential for healthy development. Let us empower children to love their unique bodies, and allow them to grow into confident, happy adults.