Ten fingers, ten toes, two little eyes and a little nose. Who amongst us has not taught our children about body parts and little rhymes on them? Bodies! Everyone gets just one. They too come in all shapes and sizes, tall or short, long or thin. Just like our babies. But our societal obsession with the shapes of our bodies have led to our little munchkins becoming a little too aware of it, a little too soon.
A Harvard medical researcher’s study found that a mother’s concern about her own body weight may shape ideas of her children’s image about their bodies. Do you constantly lament about being overweight or going on diets? You might be passing these negative attitudes to your little ones. Another study in the science journal Appetite says that even fathers who fuss over children’s eating habits, convey negative images to them. Even a regular joke about getting fat, putting on weight and looking bad because of it can harm a child’s body image.
We suggest some ways you can teach your little ones to have a positive outlook on their bodies and life.
Children are cute and it is only natural that parents will be tempted to say nice things about how they look. But try and compliment them on what they can do and are capable of doing rather than how they look. “You are strong enough to help me with groceries, or wipe the dishes dry” is a much better way of raising self-esteem and telling them what they are capable of.
If you want to tell people how healthy they look, please go ahead, but calling people fat, belabouring small blemishes and making fun of others for their bodies or body parts is very dangerous. It gives your child the idea that anything less than what is perfect is not good enough. Who wants their child to think that they are not good enough?
Your yo-yo diets can cause irreparable damage, not just to you but also to your child’s psyche. It is unreasonable to expect your child to view food in a healthy way if they watch how you give up on some foods and consume others. Or if you blame one food while secretly craving for it, binging on it or eating it on the sly. Have a healthy relationship with food and you’ll impart the same to your children. Teach your child to appreciate all kinds of foods, the good and the bad. If they crave sugar, don’t always say no. Occasional treats will keep them away from unhealthy obsession with sugar.
Can you define perfection? Body images change with fashion and time. That perfect body has changed and today fashion models are noticeably thinner than models of 25 years ago. Trends are not something you should base your body image on. It is important to tell children that all bodies are fine as long as we strive for health and fitness. Stay fit. Stay healthy. That is what matters! Children take their cues from their parents. Make sure you hand them the ones that will build confident happy people. Know of any other ways that you can make your little one less aware of their body shape? Tell us below in comments.