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8 Ways To Help Your Child Develop A Positive Body Image

8 Ways To Help Your Child Develop A Positive Body Image

By Ameena Aliyu-Beighton

One only needs to look at the pages of the glossies to see what the fashion industry believe we should all look like; perfect looking hair, skin, colour and body shape. Even though looking good and having a trim figure is desirable and healthy, we need to help our kids grow up with a healthy and positive body image or view of themselves, regardless of what they look like.

This can be achieved by:

1. Helping them discover and focus on their talents and skills

Encouraging your children to discover and appreciate themselves beyond what they look like is a good way of boosting their self worth.

Self esteem for kids, especially teenagers, is vital as their bodies begin to change. Helping them discover and develop other skills and talents, for example in sports, art or academics will help them think of other strengths they possess beyond their looks. They will realize their real worth has nothing to do with how they look or people’s opinion about their looks and personality.

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2. Celebrating their uniqueness

Showing your kids that people grow at different rates and in different ways will help them realize that they are unique and special in their own way. It is always tempting to compare oneself with what is on TV and in magazines. They may also wonder why some friends develop more rapidly than they do or have faster metabolisms. Let them know that no two people are ever exactly the same.

3. Leading by example

Negative vibes coming from you about their weight or looks and in fact your own weight or looks will leave a lasting impression. Create a positive solution driven atmosphere. If you have body image issues, do your child a favour; face your demons! Take up a healthier lifestyle with a can-do attitude and accept your unchangeable flaws. This will rub off nicely on them.

In addition, you may think they are not listening, but children soak up every last bit of information they get hold of and process it in ways you would never imagine. It’s important to watch what you say and how you describe people around them. Using words like ‘ugly’ and ‘fat’ should be avoided. It’s easy to get carried away when we are with friends, using physical features to throw jibes at others but be careful, there is a little ear perking up at your every word. Also, never direct these jibes at them for whatever reason as this can damage their confidence.

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4. Making healthy choices

Teach your kids to always opt for healthy foods by exposing them to a lifestyle of healthy meals, snacks, drinks and other bits available at home. It would do their weight, looks and health a world of good. I wish I had more structure in these areas while growing up. I believe teaching your kids these good habits as early as possible will help them throughout their lives. It’s not always easy, I know. Making consistent effort to instill this principle however is what’s important.

5. Showing them how to take proper care of their body

This could be by teaching them basic daily routines, like cleansing and moisturizing their skin, brushing and flossing regularly, and so on. Let them understand cause and effect and pay attention to looking after their bodies.

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6. Being approachable

It is always a joy to see children communicating with their parents openly and honestly. If they are teenagers, this will go against their ‘cool kid’ requisites, but is absolutely vital. You as an adult could help see things a bit clearer. Let your child see you as an honest, reliable non-judgemental source of information and comfort, so that if they do ever have issues with their shape, weight, skin colour, face or whatever else, they can freely talk to you and you can in turn find a way to help them address the issues.

7. Setting goals

If your child does have body image issues, determine if they are issues that can be sorted gradually and then set realistic goals, encouraging them all the way to success.

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8. Paying compliments

This is a great way of boosting a child’s morale and confidence. Pay sincere compliments. If they smell nice or you noticed this new dress they rocked looks so good on them, be the first to let them know.


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