CREATING AND CULTIVATING A HEALTHY BODY IMAGE
Let’s start by defining what body image is. Body image is the way you feel about your body. A child who has a positive body image feels good about her body. She is happy with the way she looks, how her body moves and grows, and what her body can do. Having a good image body is essential as it affects directly your child’s self-esteem. As your child grows up, as a parent, you can support her so that from an early age she starts building a healthy body image she will have her whole life.
Here are a few strategies that can help your child develop a positive body image:
1. With babies and toddlers. Naturally, babies and toddlers seem happy with their bodies. They enjoy kicking their feet, playing with their toes, and squirming. Once they know how to stand and walk, they are very proud of themselves. In order to help your child feel good about her body, you can give tender care and cuddle with her, give her opportunities to develop new ways to use her body, smile, encourage, and praise her when she tries to master new physical skills.
2. With school aged children. As your child grows up, she is often proud to see how tall she has grown, how she looks like with a new haircut, or how fast she can now run. At this age, your child starts comparing herself to other children; she wants to feel good about her body and be able to measure up to her peers. As a parent, you can help build a healthy body image by helping her take care of her body, by finding physical activities she enjoys as feeling fit, strong, and capable is one aspect of positive body image, and by making positive comments about people of all shapes so that your child knows that beauty does not come only in size 6.
3. With preteens and teenagers. As your child goes through puberty, her body changes and the way she feels about her body will too. So, it can take time to get used to a body that looks and feels different. A lot of preteens and teens focus on what they do not like about their looks. Girls wish to have more or less curves while boys would like to have more muscles. As a parent, you can support your preteen/teen by making sure your child is active every day, by allowing her to try new styles and looks, by making sure she gets plenty of sleep and have a healthy diet, by discussing the impact of the media’s promotion of perfection and the beauty of supermodels above everything else, and by role modeling a good body image yourself.
Young people with a positive image of themselves feel more comfortable and confident in their ability to succeed. In contrast, kids with a negative body image feel more self-conscious, anxious and isolated. They are at greater risk for excessive weight gain and for eating disorders. So, take the steps to give your child the gift of positive body image.
As a parent and a therapist, I want to offer some tips on how to raise happy and healthy kids. Please feel free to comment on my posts.