Positive Body Image for Kids: 7 Ways Parents Can Help

Modern Parenting Tips
By
Cyber Dive
Feb 16, 2022
5 min read

Trigger warning: this blog post discusses eating disorders.

As a parent, one of your main goals is to help your child develop into a healthy and confident adult. One important way to do this is by helping them build a positive body image. This means teaching them to love their body no matter what it looks like and to put their overall physical and mental health first, always. Feeling insecure about the way you look is something everyone experiences at some point in their life and having a flawless body image is nearly impossible. However, if these feelings become a constant in your child's mind, they may develop body dissatisfaction. Body dissatisfaction and body image concerns put them at risk for developing an unhealthy relationship with food or eating disorders which can drastically impact their physical and mental health.

This is why it is so important for you to take time to promote a positive body image for your child. In this blog post, we will discuss some helpful tips and activities you can do with your child to nurture this positive body image!

1. Have them list 5 things their body does for them.

Having a positive body image heavily relies on their awareness of the value their body provides. Here are some examples; my body gives me the ability to... play on the playground, enjoy yummy food, listen to music, dance with my friends, heal when I fall down, and watch movies. Having your child think of these things reminds them of all the amazing things their body does for them each and every day which, in turn, improves their body image. It helps them see their own body as so much more than a body shape. It instills of sense of awareness and appreciation for the everyday things they enjoy doing because of their body.

2. Surround them with people who practice positive body image self-talk.

If your child is consistently hearing other people talk negatively about the way they look, point out different insecurities, or discuss body image issues, they will begin to pick up on it. For example, if their older cousin is constantly saying how much they hate the way their stomach looks, your child might start to over-examine their own stomach in an effort to find flaws.

If you're a parent, you know how absorbant kids are. Observe the way your friends and family talk about their own body in front of your child and most importantly, be aware of how you talk about your own body. Set an example by practicing positive self-talk, especially when it comes to your physical appearance and body image.

3. Make sure they feel comfortable in their clothes.

Wearing clothes that make your child feel comfortable and most like themselves can help them develop a positive body image. Clothes can be a great way to help them express themselves and their unique style, even it simply means wearing their favorite color! As an adult, I'm sure you can understand how the fashion industry has stigmatized certain body shapes, ultimately hurting the body image of people of all shapes and sizes.

Remind your child that they shouldn't feel like they can only wear certain clothes based on their body shape. All bodies are beautiful and can rock any fashion trend!

4. Create positive daily affirmations to do together.

Have them think of their favorite things about themselves. These can be physical or nonphysical. Some examples could be; I love the curls in my hair, I love how strong I am, I love how big my heart is, I love how I can make my siblings laugh, and I love how good I am at math. Psychologists have found that positive affirmations can shift our way of thinking and protect us from threats against our self-integrity. Positive affirmations can become a daily habit for them and positively impact their mental health. So, the earlier you start, the better!

5. Instill the mindset that food's purpose is to nourish our bodies.

A positive relationship with food is a huge factor when it comes to a healthy body image.

Nine percent of the population have experienced eating disorders at some point in their life. According to the National Eating Disorders Association, these eating disorders include anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, orthorexia, other specified feeding or eating disorder (OSFED), avoidant restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID), pica, rumination disorder, unspecified feeding or eating disorder, laxative abuse, and compulsive exercise.

The moment your child starts to hate on their body and develop a poor body image, their relationship with food likely changes. To be proactive and help them develop a healthy relationship with food and improve body image, teach them from a young age that food is not the enemy. You can do this by respecting their hunger levels so that they can understand to intuitively eat when they feel hungry and stop when they don't. Don't label certain foods as good and bad or use food as a reward. This will help them realize that food is meant to nourish our bodies and not feel guilty for eating certain things.

Introducing them to a variety of foods, having them help in the kitchen, eating meals together, and positively talking about food will help them develop this healthy relationship and ideally prevent the development of eating disorders.

6. Practice self-care with them once a day.

A healthy body image starts with a healthy mind. Self-care will look different at every age. Self-care for your child can mean doing a craft that allows them to be creative, listening to their favorite music, making sure they are drinking enough water or practicing breathing exercises. Anything that gives them the opportunity to take a moment and do something that makes them feel good, eases any stress, or positively impacts their mental health is worth doing!

7. Teach them to avoid online content that promotes negative body image.

Social media can become a never-ending rabbit hole promoting poor body image. Who your child follows and exposes themselves to online is just as important as who they surround themselves with in real life. Social media apps like Instagram and TikTok have the power to be extremely toxic for developing minds when used without positive intention. Your child can find themselves on an endless feed of "Body Checking" videos or influencers talking about their favorite way to lose 10 pounds in a week. This can cause body dissatisfaction ultimately resulting in a negative body image. It causes them to think of themselves differently, begin to compare themselves to others, and be introduced to unhealthy ways of taking care of their body.

Unfortunately, it's impossible to let your child enjoy these social media apps and ensure that they won't see this type of content at some point. These algorithms prey on the vulnerable and rely on interaction. So, if you teach your child to just keep scrolling when they see a video that may be encouraging them to think negatively about themselves, it is likely that these videos and posts will slowly disappear from their feed. If your child doesn't give these posts the attention they are looking for, they can't hold this power over them. Monitoring their app activity and having open conversations when they do come across this content can help counteract any negative long-term effects or influence it may have on their body image.

As a parent, it's important to be proactive in helping your child develop a healthy relationship with their body and food from an early age. Positive body image is crucial for a child's development and can be fostered through different activities and habits, such as positive affirmations, creating a positive relationship with food, practicing self-care, and avoiding those who promote negative body image. I hope these tips are helpful for parents out there who are looking to help their children develop a positive body image!

 

If you or someone you know are struggling with body image or developing an eating disorder, text NEDA to 741741 for support.


Elizabeth Smart, Elizabeth Smart Foundation
"It's encouraging to know that, as parents, you do not have to be left in the dark, you can be involved. That's quite a powerful tool."
Elizabeth Smart
Elizabeth Smart Foundation
Georgann Yaya, AZCentral
"Helping parents prepare for the gamut of situations to which social media opens the door has made [Cyber Dive] venture more valuable than the bottom line."
Georgann Yara
azcentral
Billy Harfosh, iHeartRadio
"If we're concerned about stranger danger... what about a stranger getting into your child's direct messages? It can be just as dangerous, if not more so."
Billy Harfosh
iHeartRadio
Desiree Briggs, Mama Army
"[Aqua One] was just launched and is going to change the way that our children grow up in a technology-driven world."
Desiree Briggs
Co-Founder of The Mama Army
Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb
"As a Lawman and a parent I love seeing solutions for protecting children from the child predators. This Aqua One phone helps parents and even addresses the mental health of the child. Well done Cyber Dive."
Sheriff Mark Lamb
Sheriff of Pinal County Arizona
Dawn Van Camp, Mama Army
"In a society that relies so much on virtual connection, it is necessary that we teach our children how to navigate and use technology responsibly."
Dawn Van Camp
Co-Founder of The Mama Army
Phoenix Dream Center CEO Brian Steele
“One of the neatest parts about the tool is that it gives insight into not only the safety of what my child is doing out there but what my child is thinking.”
Brian Steele
CEO of Phoenix Dream Center
Larissa Marulli, Moms.com
“Being informed of your child's social media habits isn't just beneficial from a safety standpoint. You'll get an inside look at what your kid is into and enjoying.”
Larissa Marulli
moms.com
Elizabeth Smart, Elizabeth Smart Foundation
"It's encouraging to know that, as parents, you do not have to be left in the dark, you can be involved. That's quite a powerful tool."
Elizabeth Smart
Elizabeth Smart Foundation
Georgann Yaya, AZCentral
"Helping parents prepare for the gamut of situations to which social media opens the door has made [Cyber Dive] venture more valuable than the bottom line."
Georgann Yara
azcentral
Billy Harfosh, iHeartRadio
"If we're concerned about stranger danger... what about a stranger getting into your child's direct messages? It can be just as dangerous, if not more so."
Billy Harfosh
iHeartRadio
Dawn Van Camp, Mama Army
"In a society that relies so much on virtual connection, it is necessary that we teach our children how to navigate and use technology responsibly."
Dawn Van Camp
Co-Founder of The Mama Army
Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb
"As a Lawman and a parent I love seeing solutions for protecting children from the child predators. This Aqua One phone helps parents and even addresses the mental health of the child. Well done Cyber Dive."
Sheriff Mark Lamb
Sheriff of Pinal County Arizona
Desiree Briggs, Mama Army
"[Aqua One] was just launched and is going to change the way that our children grow up in a technology-driven world."
Desire Briggs
Co-Founder of The Mama Army
Phoenix Dream Center CEO Brian Steele
“One of the neatest parts about the tool is that it gives insight into not only the safety of what my child is doing out there but what my child is thinking.”
Brian Steele
CEO of Phoenix Dream Center
Larissa Marulli, Moms.com
“Being informed of your child's social media habits isn't just beneficial from a safety standpoint. You'll get an inside look at what your kid is into and enjoying.”
Larissa Marulli
moms.com

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