Over the past decade, poor body image in children and teenagers has become a pervasive issue. This is no coincidence when you look at how much modern media has changed over just a few years. Harmful messages and ideals about bodies pop up daily on our phones and devices, and these can be especially influential to developing children.
With your child constantly being exposed to these negative body image messages, you may be at a loss as to how to promote positive body image in your child. To fully build positive body image in our children, the first step is to understand body image, and then put systems in place to improve their body image.
What is Body Image and Why is it Important?
First we need to have a look at what body image is, and why we should be so concerned about it. To put it simply, your body image is the way you see your own body. It represents the relationship you have with your body. If you have a positive body image, you can accurately see and appreciate your body. You accept your body for what it is and treat it well.
Poor body image is when you look at your body, and see only the negatives. You feel uncomfortable in your own skin, and can be disgusted by your body. This is extremely harmful, especially in children and teenagers. It represents a poor relationship and lack of appreciation for their bodies, which in turn can lead to devastating mental health issues.
The Negative Effects of Poor Body Image
Poor body image can lead to a wealth of mental health problems. Especially in children and teenagers, poor body image can be so pervasive and influential that it becomes all-consuming, resulting in depression and anxiety. This longing for young people to change their bodies and belief that, if they do, it will make them happier, can result in eating disorders, self harm, and compulsive exercise.
How to Promote Good Body Image in Your Child
Fortunately, there are some tried and true methods to foster a great relationship between your child and their body.
- Inspiring a Love for Health and Fitness
It all starts with education and appreciation. Teach them about their bodies, and highlight the importance of treating their body well and with respect. Encourage them to eat well and to take part in physical activity as much as possible. This will make them feel confident and trust their own body and what it can do. Don’t focus on their weight or their size. Instead, always bring the conversation back to how exercise and a healthy lifestyle makes them feel good.
- Keep an Open Dialogue
Make sure that your child knows they can always talk to you. When they come to you with problems about their body image, talk them through it. Be open about the ways advertising and the media portray bodies, and encourage discussion about the influence that has.
- Set A Good Example
The best thing you can do for your child’s body image is to have a positive body image yourself. We learn our behaviour from our parents, so even if you are encouraging a healthy lifestyle and discussion, treating your own body with respect will influence your children. Nobody can be perfect all the time, and there is nothing wrong with having your own body image issues, as long as you are confronting them and working towards setting a good example for your child.
Body image in your children can be a tricky and sometimes terrifying issue to face. Armed with the above information you will be able to instill in your kids a positive body image that will shape their relationship with their body for the rest of their lives.
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