Encouraging a healthy body image is such an important part of parenting. We practice peaceful parenting in our home, we use gentle ways to guide our children, so I believe that the path to my kids having a healthy body image starts with me. A few nights ago Audrey asked me what the word “chubby” meant, this question led me to write this post. I lead by example and choose my words and actions wisely to make sure that I am growing my kids not hindering them. It has not always been easy for me to have a healthy body image, this makes encouraging a healthy body image in my children so very important.
Children are watching what we do and say all the time, it is easier than you can imagine to damage or ding a child’s body image. It is all to easy to let a comment slide out that can negatively impact the way our children perceive their own body image, trust me I have experienced it. Simply watching our words, as I encourage my kids to do daily, can have such a positive impact on their body image.
Encouraging a healthy body image in our children has such a positive impact on them and you may just find that it helps you to love yourself a bit more as well. A healthy body image has a huge impact on a person’s self-esteem. I want to help my children grow, not hand them something that they have to recover from, this is one of the reasons the encouraging a healthy body image in my children is so important to me.
Promote Body Love
I want my kids to love everything about themselves, including their body. Promoting body love works wonders at encouraging a healthy body image. I also find that if you promote others to love their bodies you find yourself loving yours as well, how can you not?!?
- Focus compliments on what they a person does, not what they look like. “You look so strong” . “I am impressed with how you put together that outfit”. “You are such a problem solver, wow!” NOT “You look so cute in those jeans” or “You are so handsome, all of the girls are going to flock to you”.
- Talk positive about your body and the bodies of others. Do not let your children hear you make negative comments about your body or the body of another person. Just DO NOT do this. This step alone will make a huge impact on your child’s body image but also the way you view yourself and others. When I pass someone I think to myself, “You are beautiful”, typically followed with a smile.
- Teach children that weight gain and changes in their body is a normal part of getting older. I like to focus on health not weight. My kids do not see me getting on a scale but they do see me making changes in our kitchen to nourish our bodies with healthier foods. My kids see me in the living room as I exercise, I do receive a few giggles, however my kids don’t exercise they just play.
- Again, focus on health not weight. I cannot stress this enough. Discuss healthy eating and movement as a health matter not an appearance matter.
- Watch out for bullies. Weight is a big factor in bullying. Encourage your children to talk to you if they, or someone they know, is being bullied.
- Emphasize that there is NO perfect-body. The body that you have and the body that your child has is perfect. I have shown my kids images that have been photoshopped to achieve the media’s idea of perfection. I encourage my kids to love all of them and I am so happy knowing that they do.
Positive Affirmations that Encourage Body Love
We are big on positive affirmations in our home, here are a few that help at encouraging a healthy body image in children:
- I am strong. I am beautiful. I am enough.
- Happiness is beautiful.
- I love myself. I respect myself. I am beneath no one.
- When you fuel your body with love your mind has no limits.
- I am enough. I have enough.
- You are beautiful today, right now.
- I am my own superhero.
Books that Encourage Healthy Body Image
As well as affirmations we love books. I find them very helpful in reinforcing concepts and ideas that we are focusing on, including a healthy body image.
- What I Like About Me! This fun-loving book proves to kids that, in a world where fitting in is the norm, being different is what makes us special.
- The Second Life of Abigail Walker I cannot wait for Ava to read this book, she homeschools and wants to be a vet. Seventeen pounds: that’s the difference between Abigail and being one of the popular girls. She’s having none of it, refusing to be teased, and instead finding friendship with a homeschooled kid whose father is a vet struggling with PTSD. Helping someone else might just be her ticket to feeling her best.
- I Like Myself! This little girl knows that, no matter what she does, where she goes, or what other people think, she is special because “I’m ME!” Kids will laugh at phrases like beaver breath, stinky toes and even sillier things; parents will like including diverse faces in their collection.
- I Love My Hair! This whimsical, evocative story about a girl named Keyana encourages African-American children to feel good about their special hair and be proud of their heritage.
- The Colors of Us Lena spots skin colored like honey, pizza crust, ginger, peaches, chocolate, and more! It turns out that “the colors of us” are more varied than she had ever noticed before. The message of this book will get your kids looking at the people around them in a whole new way.
- Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon! Little Molly Lou has always taken her grandmother’s advice to “sing out strong and clear” and she carries that confidence with her wherever she goes. But when she moves and starts going to a new school, the school bully starts picking on Molly Lou for her height, her buck teeth, and her (admittedly) unusual voice. Instead of losing confidence, though, Molly Lou shows how every one of her unique features can be a major asset — to the delight of her new classmates!
- You can find more awesome books encouraging a healthy body image over at A Mighty Girl.
Encouraging a Healthy Body Image
As a parent, you play an important role in promoting a healthy body image for your children. The biggest step that you can take is embrace and love your body, when you love your body you are encouraging a healthy body image in your children. I hope that this post helps you to love yourself and encourage your children and those around you to love themselves.
A healthy body image is so important to a person’s self-esteem, let’s grow our children with love, understanding, and support.
Oh, my answer to Audrey’s question was that chubby means plump and round. She was totally satisfied with that explanation.