5 Important Lessons to Teach Your Kids to Promote a Positive Self-ImageHealth
Having a positive self-image and confidence is important for a child’s development. Really, it’s important at any age. But with mainstream media and today’s influencers it can be tricky to navigate ways to teach children to love themselves just as they are. Parents play a key role in how their children see their bodies and understand their health. Let’s nurture self love and body positivity at home so children are prepared when they face challenges out in the world. Below are 5 ways parents can start to approach the topic of body positivity leading to a lifetime of confidence, self-love, and acceptance of others.
Teach Kids about Their Body
We all know the rhyme ‘head, shoulders, knees, and toes’. What a simple place to start body awareness. Young children are able to name body parts, and as they get older you can teach them what these body parts do. For example, ask the child to point to their eyes. Remind them that their eyes allow them to see the world around them. This teaches gratitude for what each part of the body does.
For the children of yesterday getting outside and running around was second nature and didn’t need to be reinforced. With technology and screen time consuming today’s kids we must encourage physical activity. Let your child choose what form of exercise excites them and
makes them feel good. And participate with them! Getting the whole family involved will teach them that at every stage of life we need to keep our bodies moving to stay healthy. Again, do not bring the concept of weight or burning calories into the conversation. Activity should be enjoyable and we should praise accomplishments they make along the way. At Little Yogis, we love the idea of practicing both yoga and free dance! This brings an aspect of mindfulness and intention to our movement.
Lots of children struggle with food, especially the green kind. Parents try to fill their children’s plates with healthy food, but it is also important to discuss why we all need to eat our fruits and vegetables. These colourful foods help give us energy to play and be happy, as well as see and think clearly, and grow strong, and should be enjoyed in abundance. We can also teach our kids that foods like candy and ice cream, although are very tasty, do not provide us with the same nutrients our bodies really need. These foods can be enjoyed in moderation and shouldn’t be treated as a reward. Try making healthy eating as fun as possible. Cooking as a family activity or picking out fresh produce together is a great place to start.
All Bodies are Good Bodies
Not all bodies are properly represented in the media. It’s important to have this conversation with children and ensure them that they shouldn't be comparing their body to these unrealistic standards. Parents should never praise one weight or body type over another. Help them understand that people are not to be judged by their body’s weight, size, physical ability/disability or skin colour. And they should not judge others or themselves if they do not see themselves reflected in unattainable beauty standards to today’s society. We should be teaching children that all bodies are acceptable and they should feel confident in their body, even if it’s different from someone else's. Let them know that bodies come in all shapes and sizes and all are equally worthy of love. Address what our children see on social media and help them think critically about why these beauty standards may be unrealistic. There are so many negative messages out in the world. Let’s be the positive voice of reason children need.
Lead By Example and Love Yourself
Most importantly, parents need to set a good example. We can talk to kids about all of the important topics discussed above, but unless we actively practice this ourselves, children will notice. If we respect ourselves for who we are, and value the differences in others regardless of appearance, we are leading by example for our kids. Self-love starts with you. Avoid self-deprecating comments about your own body and instead talk about what you love about yourself. Actively compliment yourself, your ‘imperfections’, and praise the abilities your body has, like the strength to lift your child up or to go run outside with them. Our bodies and appearances change over time - show them a picture of yourself years ago and comment on what you loved about yourself then, what has changed, and what you love about yourself now. Be mindful to compliment your children on what they do rather than how they look. Let them know they are loved unconditionally, regardless of their weight or performance. Promote self care, exercise, and eating well, all while leading by example and teaching them about their body. Be proud of who you are and your kids will do the same.
Written by Carrie Seibel, LY Teacher