This world can be cruel; there’s no sugar coating that. When it comes to kids, it can be hard to stop your kids from being exposed to the world’s cruelness, especially when it comes to body image. On a personal level, I was raised being told I was beautiful just as I was, but a few years of intense ballet lessons pushed me to think otherwise; being told I was fat by my ballet teacher. I was ten. In a world that is constantly fuelled by how we look, how can you raise a child to love the bodies they’re in?
Promote Self Love In Front Of Your Kids
Kim Watson from MET Fitness offers her advice on promoting body positivity. “Thinking & speaking positively & with love about our bodies, what they can do & how they help us move through the world, is so important. And takes conscious effort. Flip the script & notice how your body feels & how it serves you. Clients often tell me they hate their arms, for example. My response is: those magnificent arms reach out into the world & allow you to embrace the people you love. Too many women (in particular) view their body as something to be looked at, rather than an exquisite instrument that allows them to play, laugh, love & dance through life.” Find out more about MET Fitness by following them on Facebook.
Don’t Force Your Kids To Eat If They’re Not Hungry
One thing that a lot of parents do, with no intention other than love, is to try and force feed their kids when they’re simply not hungry. Studies have suggested that if a child is trained to eat everything on their plate, even when they’re full, they may grow up to overeat later in life. Parents want their kids to learn the lesson of not wasting food, and they want to make sure that their child has enough energy to live, but if your child says that they’re not hungry, don’t make them lick the plate clean. In the same aspect, it’s important to allow your child to eat if they are hungry.
Keep Your Child Active
As a way to prevent your child thinking that their body is purely a tool to be gawked at, make sure that your kid is moving around and getting some exercise. Teach your child what amazing things your body can do, and why it’s worth so much more than just something to carry clothes. Make sure that your child plays outside, whether it be with your pet, playing footy or even just doing cartwheels. Rather than just telling them, show them. Grab your pet supplies, take your dog out for a run and take your kids with you. Get them outside and show them what their bodies can do.
It’s Not Just Girls
It’s easy to forget that boys need to be raised with a body positive attitude alongside girls, as men’s bodies are often less targeted by the media than a woman’s. However, it’s important to remind your son that he doesn’t need to be more athletic looking, or that he needs big muscles to attract a partner. Explain that it’s okay if you’re not muscular, or if they don’t have the same body shape as someone that they see in the media. The same goes with young girls; explain to them that they don’t have to be skinny to be considered attractive, or that muscles are meant for boys.
Teach Them About Beauty Diversity
While we’re at it, it’s important to teach both boys and girls about different body types of the opposite sex. What is considered beautiful? It’s impossible to answer, because that question is subjective. Beauty is seen differently across the globe, so you should teach your children to avoid putting beauty ideals into one box. Teaching young boys that a woman is only attractive if they have a certain body type seems self-explanatory, but the same goes with young girls. Channing Tatum isn’t the only way a man can be attractive, just as Candice Swanepoel isn’t the only way a woman can be attractive, and kids should grow up knowing this. When you’re watching a movie on your modern entertainment unit, show them the many different ways you can be beautiful, and show them that there isn’t one standard of beauty that they should fall into.
Open A Dialogue About Media Literacy
Lisa Cox offers her advice for raising a body positive child. “Don't transfer your own body insecurities onto your kids and be careful with the language you use around them when it comes to appearance. Open the dialogue about media literacy from a young age and encourage children to have a critical eye for every piece of pop culture that they consume. You can’t control everything the see but then if they do (for example) see a heavily airbrushed image, they'll have the media literacy skills to know that ít doesn't look like that in real life.” Find out more about Lisa Cox by following her on Facebook and Instagram.
Focus On A Body’s Function, Rather Than Appearance
Katie Nicole from More Confidence shares her advice. “Avoid focusing on the aesthetics of their ( and your own) body. Instead, comment only on how functional our bodies are. E.G how strong, powerful, resilient etc. Calling your child beautiful will only lead to them feeling that their worth is in what they look like, instead teach them that their value is inherent. Encourage your children to use their bodies. Get them involved in a sport of their choice, anything from dancing to football, don't force it but find something that they like DOING with their bodies. Again, this will take the focus off what the body looks like and more of what it is capable of.” Find out more about More Confidence by following them on Facebook and Instagram.
The media often dictates us on our standards of beauty, so it’s important to teach your kids that there’s no single way to be beautiful, to be strong or good enough. Start from an early age, because children are exposed to the negativity sooner than you’d think.