Poor body image causes low self-confidence, broken relationships due to insecurity, dangerous eating disorders and grave medical concerns. Therefore, it is important for children to have a healthy concept of their bodies.
Below are some guidelines on how to help your kids value their physical appearance:
Parents with the right knowledge can improve their child’s body image. The first thing a parent should know is the appropriate weight range for his child.
Currently, people are categorized according to weight using the Body Mass Index or BMI. BMI indicates whether a person’s weight is right for his height.
Many websites can calculate your child’s BMI. However, for more personal and professional assistance, better get in touch with your family pediatrician.
A parent should also know:
- How his child feels about his physical appearance,
- What kind of body his child wants to have,
- How much the child wants to match the body he desires, and
- What triggered his child to be conscious about his figure.
Some children do not care much about how they look while others can be too obsessed about it. Parents should care for their children enough to know these.
Third, a parent must be aware of his child’s eating habits, physical activities and causes of stress. Knowing these can help a parent take steps to improve the kind and amount of food his child consumes, lead his child into a more active lifestyle and ensure that his child does not manage stress improperly by eating too much food.
Direct the Child’s Focus on Good Health and Fine Character
TV commercials and other ads shape a child’s picture of what a body should be. Sadly, this image is frequently false and unrealistic.
A family must put high premium on having a healthy body and an upright behavior. A child must strive to be healthier and well-mannered rather than pine for a model’s figure.
Parents must discuss with their children the ways and benefits of having a healthy lifestyle. They should also inculcate values such as discipline, trustworthiness, compassion and ability to communicate well. Children must understand that there is more to life than having 6-pack abs or a toned pair of legs.
Provide Unconditional Love and Affection
Eating disorders and relationship problems thrive in the pursuit for perfection. Here, flaws and mistakes are both prohibited and punished severely.
A child must feel significant just because he exists. It is the parents’ duty to give this sense of significance to their children.
Children should be sure that their parents love them regardless of how they look, what they have, how they behave, how they perform, what others say about them and what they achieve. Affirmative words and displays of affection are excellent ways to make kids feel loved and important.
Parents must learn to separate their child’s behavior from their child. When a child does well by eating vegetables for example, parents should make it clear to him that “eating vegetables” is good instead of saying that he is good because “he ate vegetables”.
A child should recognize that as a valuable being, he must look after his body and respect himself and others.
Make it a Parent-Child Endeavor
Parents should live healthily without being overly concerned about their figures. Children easily catch their parents’ whines over chunky thighs and flabby tummies. Such complaints can cause kids to give too much importance on looking like a model from a magazine cover.
Children are encouraged to do unhealthy practices such as crash dieting when they see their parents do the same. In contrast, grown-up kids take balanced meals by themselves if they were used to eating balanced meals frequently with their families.
The same goes for living an active lifestyle and managing stress properly. Parents who set an example and involve the whole family in being fit are more successful in raising kids who have balanced perspective of themselves.
Parents want their children to have self-confidence, great relationships and a good life. These are possible if their children have an accurate picture of themselves, including their physical appearance.
Therefore, parents should be updated on their children’s body image and champion the importance of having a healthy body and respectable character. Parents should also team up with their kids in acquiring a healthy body image and show them unwavering care and support. All these can bring children closer to a healthy image of their bodies.
- Mintle, L. 2005. Overweight Kids: The Positive, Practical and Inspirational Guide for Parents. USA.