10 Ways to Ensure Your child Has a Great Body Image
1. Educate Early
Teach children to think of their body as a wise and life-sustaining machine rather than something to critique; emphasize that by making good food choices, our bodies can do amazing things.
2. Cuddle, hug, and hug some more
Children with physically affectionate parents are less likely to feel bad about their body.
3. The power of role modelling
Children learn a lot from example, so refrain from worry-thoughts voiced aloud to friends about calories, weight gain, etc.
4. Avoid the “good/bad” trap
Labeling foods as “good’ or “bad” can lead to guilt, deprivation, and in turn, emotional eating. Teach instead that no food is bad food; we just need different types of food in different amounts.
5. Health at any size
Focus on physical activity rather than body size. Show kids how this can be fun: for example, shooting hoops or going for a bike-ride.
6. Media savvy youth
Discuss media images and what they convey. Teach your kids to be critical consumers. Point out frequently what a diverse world we live in.
7. Listen to “know” your child
When a child makes self-derogatory comments, ask how and why they want to look different. Help them find their fears and misconceptions.
8. Combat bullying
Teach your kids how to identify bullying and combat it. Take a zero-tolerance policy for harmful body-focused teasing.
9. Consider development
Share information with your children: for instance, that there can be a 22% increase in body fat during puberty, and also that genetics is part of the whole picture.
10. Let your child regulate their own eating
Letting children serve themselves and eat however much they feel they need will reduce power struggles and allow them to listen to the wisdom of their bodies.
(adapted from West Coast Families magazine, Mar. 2011, article by Michelle Kambolis)by