8 Ways to Empower Kids to Love Their Bodies

There’s a battle going on in your backyard.

In your bathroom.

On your big screen.

It’s a battle with the side of yourself that you hope your kids don’t notice.

Health vs. Beauty

The chick that checks herself out in the mirror every morning and says those jeans make me look fat. The mean girl who says your nose is too big when you’re putting makeup on in the mirror.

We all do it. You. Me. Everyone.

Media, culture, and marketing companies make sure we keep confusing healthy with beauty. Beauty sells. 

Health has become confused with perfection.

Aren't you tired of feeling like you're never enough?

Sometimes what we do when we think the kids aren’t looking sends an even louder message than what we say.

Filtered Instagram pics, professional Facebook family photos, and a 24/7 culture that favors looks over life.

Our families are drowning in photoshopped perfection.

You can’t escape a world that loves beauty.

Image Matters

toddler body image

Sometimes the culture around us has a message of it’s own, confusing the one want to convey to our kids.

The crisis of children and teens with body image issues is more serious than ever before. Boys and girls alike are subject to the impacts of unachievable cultural standards.

In a world where the average teen is reported to spend 9 hours a day using some form of media, consider how many images of “health” intercept what we hope to teach them. Think about how important physical appearance can seem.

Men are supposed to be lean, tanned and muscular. Women must be impeccably manicured and impossibly thin.

This isn’t okay. The pressure and resulting low self esteem, can have devastating consequences.

Here are 8 ways to steer your kids toward a rockin’ body image instead of just an empty quest for a rockin’ bod.

  1. Shut down the Peanut Gallery.

    Making remarks about someone’s weight gain (or even their loss) sends a clear message. A bad one.

    Saying, “Wow, you lost the baby weight! You look amazing!” is the same as saying, “Uh-oh, Uncle Roy really needs to lay off the cheeseburgers.” Both statements imply that someone’s weight is fair game for public scrutiny. It’s not. It’s none of your business.

    Zip it.

  2. Be kind. To yourself!

    Your kids are watching you. You spend time and energy assuring them that your value isn’t defined by pants size, bulging muscles and a face from a magazine. Take your own advice. Don’t let them overhear you saying that you hate the way your thighs look in leggings.

    Don’t let them see you pulling back on your face to erase those fine lines while you look disappointed with yourself for aging. (What were you thinking getting older?!)

    Model the self love that you want them to find for themselves.

  3. Don’t be a couch potato.

    Be active together. If they see you working on your sofa indent for 6 hours a day they will likely follow suit. Bust out the sneakers and run around with them in the backyard. Walk your dog together, have a dance party, go for a bike ride. Your choice, just move!

    Being sedentary isn’t beneficial for anyone.

    Health is about feeling good and feeling good involves activity. 

  4. Banish the F word from your vocabulary. (The other one.)

    The word “fat” doesn’t need to be spoken to children. Due to the long-standing playground use of that word as a verbal weapon, it has earned it’s place on a list of things you shouldn’t say. The connotation is insulting, mean and sends the wrong message to kids.

    Retire it if you haven’t already.

  5. Cook together.

    Kids aren’t born with an understanding of nutrition. They learn it. One of the most effective ways of doing that is by spending time in the kitchen together. Discuss food and explain the ways some foods nourish the body and others don’t. Don’t worry about the mess and let them roll up their sleeves and be a part of the action.

    Making it a weekly ritual would provide benefits that far outweigh the convenience of ordering a pizza every Friday.

    [Tip: Start a Sugar Scan. For one day, help your child track their sugar intake. It’s actionable and hands-on, which the brain will remember. The results are always surprising.]
    good food choices create good body image
  6. Don’t comment on their weight gains and losses.

    If your child is at an unhealthy weight intervention is necessary, but in the case of slight fluctuations don’t mention it! It’s part of life. Your commentary will not assist them in any way. It is more likely to have adverse effects.

  7. Teach them the truth about media.

    Blow the BS whistle! There is a great divide between the average person in real life and the average person as portrayed in the media. Make sure that your kids know the difference. Not every woman is a size 2 (far from it) and not every man looks like George Clooney.

    Own your differences.

  8. Empower them.

    Your child is so much more than their physical appearance. Of course they are! Make sure that they know without any doubt at all, that you love them for who they are on the inside. Build their confidence so that they can stand tall even when you aren’t around.

    Give them the tools to know that their inner strengths are the ones that count.

Join us on the battlefield and fight for health, not beauty.

Being healthy is important. Healthy is beautiful and our kids need to know. It’s quite possibly the single most important thing that you can do for yourself and your family. Teaching your children how to be healthy is your responsibility. Social, emotional, and physical health matter.

You can start right now.

Look at yourself in mirror, a phone, or a window. Acknowledge something good about yourself.

Easier said than done. But totally doable.

You got this.

Blair
 

Associate Editor of Lies About Parenting, Blair finds stories in her everyday, ordinary life and likes to over think them to death so that they no longer seem everyday and ordinary. She shares it all because she thinks it’s good to be imperfect. It’s human. By sharing the missteps, the screw-ups, and the eventual insights, she thinks she can make another imperfect somebody out there appreciate their own story a little more. You can find her at ByBlairArmstrong.com.

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