Let's talk about Positive Body Image
Here are five tips to help parents who are wondering how to build a sense of positive body image alongside their child.
When it comes to Body Image, it is important to first ask yourself this question...
“How do you feel when you look in the mirror, how do you see yourself?"
"What is your own self-image and how do you talk and describe yourself?”
It is important to know that YOU have a huge influence on your child in relation to how you speak about yourself. Children are like sponges and they soak everything up. They are listening to you. They are watching you.
It is important to understand that how you speak about yourself really matters. Positive Language is important.
Listen to how you talk about yourself, and see if you can adjust some of your language, to words that are kinder and more self-compassionate. Your child will benefit from this shift in language. It will give them language to describe themselves in kinder ways too, and this will lead to a more positive body image.
One way to promote a positive body image with your child is to encourage activity, encourage movement. Movement does not always come in the form of organised activity.
Movement can be play-based, walks as a family, dancing round the kitchen, kick a ball around outside together, go for a cycle.
Let all the focus not just be on organised sport - some children will never be interested in sport and some children may partake in five different sports.
Whatever it is, encourage movement in your child. Physical activity is good for the body and mind, and it promotes a sense of positivity in the body
AND here's the bit for us parents and guardians, we need to role model movement and activity, otherwise, our children won’t take us seriously, and they will find it hard to take our advice, if we are too fond of the sofa!
Model moderation. The 80/20 model is useful.
80% of the time we eat healthily and take care of our body and then 20% of the time we might indulge.
Discuss advertising and advertisements with your child. Your child is already aware of the media and what the media portrays as a good body/bad body image.
Talk about it, find out their opinions. Be curious.
Tell them about Photoshopping and the Ethics around this.
AND dare I suggest? Stop using enhancement filters on your own social media posts.
Your approach and attitude to yourself, is influencing your child's attitude to their own body.
Compliment your child’s character. This will help to build a positive self-image.
Move beyond complimenting them on their clothes or hairstyle. Name their positive actions or behaviours that you notice.
Try something like:
"You are such a helpful person, it's so nice having your help with the hoovering today"
"You are such a good friend, helping out [XY person] like that"
And watch for their reaction.
Children feel good about themselves and more connected to you, when they receive genuine compliments from the important adults in their lives.
Through the process of you giving compliments to your child about their character, your child learns that beauty and the body and image is not just a visual or physical thing. It is also about the person and how we carry ourselves and the type of person we are, and our actions and behaviours.
This then is reflected in feelings of positivity in our bodies and builds a sense of good self-image.
It reinforces that we are valuable because of who we are, rather than valuable only because of how we look.
If you want to learn more about body awareness, you will find modules in both of our e-learning courses
Thriving Tweens - for children aged 11 to 13
Thriving Together - for parents of children aged 11 to 13
These courses are self-paced, take them at your leisure, and they will help to build you and your child's awareness of the body, relationships, feelings and boundaries.