Teach Your Kids Positive Body Image
Sometimes friends ask advice about their child who they fear may be getting a little fat. I stop them right there and say don’t make an issue about weight; make it about health and fitness.
Media images have poisoned our minds to believe there is one size and body image we must strive for or we’re less than adequate. In 20 years of teaching exercise I hardly hear women say anything positive about their body image. There is a study finding 80 percent of adult women are unhappy with the body image they see in the mirror. So a lot of ladies are in the gym working out because of complaints about what’s too big or out of proportion.
Mothers, what are we teaching our daughters?
No wonder surveys have shown that elementary school girls are already critical of their body image. One survey found 81% of ten-year-old girls had already been on a diet.
Children learn from what they see their parents or role models doing and saying. It breaks my heart when I hear a mom criticizing what their child is eating by warning about how they’re going to look. Or to hear a woman lamenting over how she needs to get to the gym because she looks bad.
It’s an uphill battle teaching your children self-confidence and to have a positive body image. I was shocked to hear my 13-year old daughter, who is a long, slim swimmer, say she wanted to lose weight. Where did that come from? I never talk about my weight or body image. I teach women to feel good about themselves and therefore I have trained myself to avoid criticizing myself out loud. Unfortunately I can’t shield my children from the media or schoolmates who like to tease others.
What are we to do?
Remember, health first. Adults must value exercise and activity as a way to stay healthy. Cardiovascular exercise keeps the heart strong. Lifting weights makes the body strong and bones dense. Yoga and stretching keep the body flexible and young. You need to fuel your body with good nutrition. If you do these things your body will respond and as a side benefit you’ll look better in and out of your clothes.
When you take care of yourself you are being a good role model for your child. Talk about what you’re doing to stay healthy and how good you feel. Not how you look and body image.
Encourage your child to be active. Some of my friends require their kids participate in some kind of sport or activity year-round. Be a parent and make goals and rituals like this instead of giving in to whines for more video games. It’s for their own good and will help them develop good habits and a positive body image.
Don’t force kids to do something they don’t like but help them find something where they can enjoy moving for an hour most days. Or if they can do it for longer periods on the weekend, research shows that’s a good alternative.
Finally, be active together.
Especially if you have trouble getting your child off the computer, have them join you on a walk, bike ride or washing the car. It’s quality time together where you both can benefit.
Let’s change the conversation about Body Image.
When there is an opportunity to talk about how models and actors look in the media you can point out how it’s an art and tricks are used to make people look better. In real life beauty comes from the inside so kindness with good health and strength are very attractive.
Body Image: http://www.sirc.org/publik/mirror.html
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