What we think about our own bodies is a huge topic during the weight loss journey. If you’ve followed me online for any period of time, you may know I’m a full supporter of the body positive movement. But, what about our kids? With so much body shaming in our culture, how can we raise body positive kids too?
One important fact I’ve learned over the years is that body positivity starts with US!
I turn 39 years old today (hard for me to believe!), but I’m feeling pretty good about it. Yes, 40 is right around the corner, but for some reason I’m feeling more relaxed about approaching this next decade than I did when I turned 29 years old – and 30 was around the corner.
Maybe there’s something about getting more secure in who we are as we age? I hear that inner-confidence will keep growing even more in the years to come, and I look forward to it.
I think back to who I was in my 20’s – someone very insecure about who I was, especially about my body. Even back to my teen years – I had done a million diets, struggled with eating disorders, followed by binge-eating disorder, and was always searching for the next diet to “fix me.”
It’s amazing to think back to when I started to hear about diets, obesity, and judging ourselves about how we looked.
My skewed views of my body image happened when I was a child.
I remember very clearly being praised by certain people I knew (as a very young child) for being slender.
I remember being advised to “keep my skinny-look because (as I was told), genetically in my family we tend to gain weight as we approach 30 years old.”
“Enjoy being skinny while I could,” I was told.
I also remember the negative comments I received from those same people when I started to put on a little weight (about 20 lbs) as I got into high school.
“Oh, look at you, Barb. You are really starting to ‘fill out’ a bit now that you’re getting older.”
It was then I started my first diet.
THEY OFTEN HAVE THE BEST INTENTIONS
I don’t blame anyone else for my dieting path. I truly believe the adults who talked with me about how I was “filling out” and should enjoy my last few years of being skinny while I could had the best intentions. Over the years I’ve learned the comments we hear about our weight from others typically have little to do with us, and have more to do with the mindset (and experiences) of the person saying them.
Nonetheless, I now have two little girls of my own. I’m very aware of how these comments about my weight this affected me. I don’t want to continue the pattern with my daughters as they get older and their bodies change.
I want to raise body positive kids!
BODY SHAMING IN OUR SOCIETY – THE EFFECT ON KIDS
Recently I ran across a study with a scary statistic: that many children, even as young as 5, say they don’t like their bodies.
Common Sense Media’s study also showed that parents play a huge role in shaping how kids think and feel about their bodies. Starting to help children get a positive view of their bodies early on, even in preschool, can make a big difference in how children feel about themselves as they grow up.
In our society we are bombarded with body-comparing, talk of diets, weight loss, and even body shaming on social media. Photoshop is used frequently to give the illusion of the “perfect” body in the majority of the images we see. Media outlets often shame famous actors and actresses when they gain weight or even look too skinny.
This type of media can influence us and how we view our bodies and body-esteem.
Even though my job is in the fitness and health industry, one thing I try to do with my girls is NOT have them hear me talk about weight, diets, etc, or hear views about my body or anyone else’s body either.
Not saying I’m a perfect parent by any means (we are all human), but I really try to be mindful and aware of this.
Today I wanted to share my favorite strategies to help raise body-positive kids.
HOW TO RAISE BODY-POSITIVE KIDS
Here are some more tips. Some of from the “Eating Disorders Victoria” group (http://www.eatingdisorders.org.au/) and some of my own personal tips mixed in as well.
10 TIPS TO RAISE BODY-POSITIVE KIDS:
- 1) Find ways to reward your kids that don’t involve food.
- 2) Don’t label food as “good” or “bad.”
- 3) Don’t ban certain foods from your diet to lose weight – or tell your kids you can’t eat something because it will “make you fat.” #NoBannedFoods
- 4) Talk about health, not weight.
- 5) Resist the urge to comment on other people’s bodies or say comments about your own body.
- 6) Make mealtimes and outings a family affair.
- 7) Encourage and role model exercise as something fun and healthy.
- 8) Role model body positive behaviors – throw out the scales, don’t put yourself down, diet or excuse yourself from fun activities due to your body size or shape.
- 9) Be creative in your compliments… talk about how kind, creative, thoughtful or imaginative your kids are, and resist the urge to say how pretty, thin, heavy, or lean they look.
- 10) As long as you aren’t allergic to cookies… enjoy a cookie with your kids every so often 😉
Most of all, encourage them to just….