Building a Healthy Body Image with Your Kids

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), September 4, 2013 | Go to article overview

Building a Healthy Body Image with Your Kids


One day you're begging your muddy, sandy preschooler to take a bath, and then before you know it, you're begging them to not spend so much time primping in the bathroom. When did that happen? How did that happen?

For so many of us, we spend the toddler and preschool years worrying that our kids are eating too much, not eating enough, or eating all the wrong foods that we overlook the importance of teaching them how to appreciate their body in all shapes and forms. While it's completely natural for kids to become aware of their own body as well as their peers, the ground work you lay for them plays a big factor on how they cope with this new body awareness now and in the future.

Having a healthy body image means that most of your feelings, ideas and opinions about your body and appearance are positive. It means accepting and appreciating your body and feeling mostly satisfied with your appearance. Unfortunately, it seems that kids are struggling more and more these days. According to the National Eating Disorder Association, 42 percent of first- to third-graders wish to be thinner while 81 percent of 10-year-olds are afraid of being fat. Despite those stats, it is still important to talk to your kids about healthy foods, but how you portray both yourself and food can make the difference in their body image.

It sometimes takes my 5-year-old threatening a time-out on my 3-year-old to remind me on how much of their behavior is shaped by imitating our behavior, the good with the bad. As parents, there are a few things that can be done on a daily basis to help model positive body image:

* Avoid negative statements about your own or others' weight or body shape.

* Compliment your child on their talents, accomplishments and values as opposed to their outside beauty.

* Model the strength of your body through regular family physical activities.

Even if you model healthy body image, weight issues may still be present in the family and how you address weight and food while minimizing "dieting" can be tricky. …

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