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Creating a Positive Body Image for You and Kids

I grew up in a era of weight watchers, low carbs, diets, and crop tops. As an average sized kid it was rough enough to see celebrities wearing low rise jeans and showing their midriff let alone growing up in a tropical location where we pretty much lived in bathing suits. My mother struggled with her weight her entire life and I had a front road seat of her trying to navigate that same struggle after having two kids. Don't get me wrong, my mother was and is amazing when it comes to building up my confidence and NEVER restricted my diet or shamed me but I always was aware of my body size. (Don't worry, her and I talk about this and both know that it's no reflection on her, just the times that were).

However, after finding out I was going to have a daughter of my own I knew that I didn't want history to repeat itself. Talking kindly about your own body is easier said than done but as we know what we say and do our kids mimic even though it's normally that four letter word you said that sticks with them vs all the good things you do or say. Nweverthless, we froge on and keep trying.

What Does it actually look like to create a positive body image for your kids? I'm glad you asked...... 1. Focus on non-physical qualities: Teach your children that their worth is not determined by their appearance. Encourage them to value their inner qualities such as kindness, intelligence, and creativity. Help them understand that true beauty comes from within and that their unique qualities make them special. 2. Encourage a Healthy Lifestyle: Instead of focusing on weight or size, emphasize the importance of a healthy lifestyle and avoid the dreaed "I HAVE to workout". Encourage your children to engage in physical activities they enjoy without the emphasis on what it burns. Go for family walks, play tag, kick the ball in the yard, have random dance parties. The act of movement from a young age with encourage a active lifestyle that will grow as they do. Teach them that taking care of their bodies is about feeling strong and energized, rather than achieving a certain clothing size, weight, or arbitrary standard. 3. Avoid Negative Body Talk: Be mindful of the language YOU use when talking about your own body or others' bodies. Avoid making negative comments about weight, size, or appearance (I've deleted the word fat from my adjective list). Instead, focus on promoting body positivity and self-acceptance. Celebrate the diversity of bodies and teach your children to appreciate and respect all body types. 4. Wait on the Weight Talk: A big part of doctors appointments and yearly check ups are focused on growth and sometimes the topic of weight comes up. While sometimes this can be information that is needed, it doesn't mean that little ears need to hear it. Either tell the nurse during intake you don't want it talked about with your child present or even hand them a note asking for it to be discussed privately if there is a cause for concern. This way you can control the narrative and how the topic is brought up IF it's needed to with your kiddo. 5. Nurture Open Communication: Create a safe and open environment where your children feel comfortable discussing their feelings about their bodies. Encourage them to ask questions and express any concerns they may have. Don't be quick to brush it off and shut down the conversation, take in the info and work together to find ways to feel better and prouder. 6. Be a Positive Role Model: Remember that your own body image and self-esteem greatly influence your children. Model positive body image by embracing your own body and practicing self-care. Show them that you love and accept yourself as you are, and they will learn to do the same. This goes hand in hand with not putting yourself last on the list. 7. Think of What You'd Want to Hear: Chances are you know what you would want to have heard when you were a kid even if you never did have it said to you. Would you want to be told that you are more than the number on your clothes or maybe that you can create your own style vs following the trends? Don't be afraid to share those things with them and bring yourself back down to their level.

At the end of the day, taking care of yourself helps you take care of your kids and hopefully shed the figurative weight of societies expectations and start to love our bodies for the amazing miracles they are.

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