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Helping Kids Like Their Bodies

Andrea Ramsay Speers - Tuesday, January 15, 2013

There’s a lot of visual pressure out there for kids today, and while we as parents would want to send positive messages about body image and appearances, sometimes that message can get a little muddled.  Here are some ideas on how to help kids like their bodies:

  • make sure you’re not setting a poor example by bashing your own body.  If phrases like, “I’m feeling fat today” or “I hate how I look in this” are floating around your house, you can bet that kids will start to internalize those thoughts, too.
  • focus on accomplishments, character traits, strengths and what our bodies can do, rather than what they look like.
  • sports can be a great way to focus on physical accomplishments.  Just be watchful that pressure to be thin/small/bulkier/a certain body shape doesn’t become a part of the experience for your child and outweigh any benefits.
  • when you’re watching television shows and movies with situations of positive or negative body images, take that opportunity to talk about what you’re watching.  Don’t assume that the message is being absorbed by your child; reinforce it by discussing it and letting him/her know how you feel about what you’re seeing.
  • While our knee-jerk reaction to hearing a statement like, “I’m so fat” might be to disagree and try to change your child’s mind, instead try to gently get to the root of the problem by finding out where this thought it coming from.  Was something said at school?  Did s/he watch a movie or read a book that sparked something for him/her?  Talk it through and really listen, instead of just trying to counter the statement, and help you child find a way of coping with the situaton. 
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Andrea Ramsay Speers • Psychotherapist & Parent Coach • Oakville Family Institute • 175 Glenashton Dr., Oakville ON • Tel.: 905-491-6949

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