How do you teach your child a positive body sensation? Today, in the time of slimming, the question is more important than ever. With these ten tips, you can help your child accept his body.
A healthy body feeling contributes to a fuller life, as many studies confirm. Unfortunately we are told on a daily basis that we are not perfect. That we are too fat, too thin, too medium. There are demands on us, where adults despair – how should children and adolescents cope?
The only protection we can offer our children is prevention. As parents, we can not keep them away from the advertising and fashion worlds. But we can strengthen their body feeling so that they do not break the impossible expectations of TV & Co. Here are 10 tips on how to give your child a positive body feeling:
1. Do not talk bad about the bodies of others
Northwestern University psychology professor and author Renee Engeln says, “Children learn how to think and feel about their bodies by listening to adults.” If adults only talk about their body defects, children feel that their bodies can never be “good enough”. If they hear adults talk badly about other people’s bodies, children will focus on their physical deficiencies when looking in the mirror.
Angels advises parents to always be aware of how to talk about the body in front of the children. Devaluing comments should be avoided, the topic at best be banned from home.
2. Stop complaining about your own body
To denounce his own body to children can be just as harmful. Anyone who claims to be too fat or does not fit in size 36 does not feel that his child has a healthy body.
“As parents, we have to respectfully speak about the different body dimensions,” explains Prof. Rebecca Puhl from the Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity . This also means that you yourself should work on your own self-image and feel comfortable in his body. We radiate this feeling to the outside and send it to our children.
3. Talk well about different body shapes
Avoiding is one thing, highlighting the other. Speak positively to your children about all body shapes . “We have to allow ourselves and our children to feel good in our bodies – regardless of our size, body shape or other external characteristics,” explains Puhl.
Joslyn Smith of the National Eating Disorders Association says, “I always tell my daughter, ‘All bodies are good bodies.'” What a nice guiding principle!
4. Talk more about inside, not about externals
You should always emphasize your values before children. When talking about the outside, the children learn that it is a very important value. If you leave the subject, however, they learn that there are more important things than the external appearance.
We should stop talking about our own or the bodies of others in front of our children. The more time we devote to these topics, the more important it seems to a child.
It is better to convey to the child that there are more important things than the appearance. This can be indirectly conveyed to him by bringing other topics of conversation to the fore. How about talking about what people say or do instead of what they look like?
Prof. Amy Slater of the University of the West of England’s Center for Appearance Research emphasizes: “Encourage your children to values that are unrelated to their body, such as being a good friend.”
5. Focus on doing, rather than looking
Slater advises, “Teach your children to value their bodies for what they do , not what they look like .” You can start – as so often – by giving a good role model and respecting your own body for what it is capable of.
This is the only way to make children talk about what they can do and how they feel, rather than their weight or body shape.
When Slater’s daughter comes up to her and complains that her belly has increased, she replies, “It’s so cool that you’ve noticed how your body is changing, getting bigger, older and stronger, bodies are coming in all of them different sizes and shapes therefore are constantly changing – and every single body is equally good and worth the same. “
6. Food & exercise: Be a good role model
Many parents worry about the eating habits of their children. However, a ban can quickly turn into the opposite and intensify the grip on fast food, says Prof. Puhl.
Studies have shown, however, that children look away from eating behavior of their parents. The same applies to the movement. Here it is important to give the child a healthy lifestyle and to provide him with those foods that are healthy at home.
7. Preach intuitive food instead of eating bans
Instead of prescribing to the child what it has to eat and what not to eat and how often it should move, it is more effective to encourage the child to listen to the needs of his own body. When am I full? When am I hungry? What am I hungry for? If a child can answer these questions for himself, it is no longer necessary to subdivide foods into “good” and “bad”. Because: How parents talk about food, health and sports activities, can affect as much on the self-image of the child as discussions about weight and body shape.
It is better to provide the child with many different foods, so that they learn to deal with the topic of nutrition in a relaxed way.
“If parents manage to engage in physical activity with the child without addressing the subject of weight, they have a good chance that their offspring will enjoy the exercise and maintain it until old age,” said psychologist Laura Hart of La Trobe University in Australia.
8. Get family members and friends on board
It is not enough to follow these tips only in your own home. This makes it all the more important to educate other family members, neighbors and friends on how to give children a positive physical sensation.
If one learns that somebody is practicing bodyshaming in the presence of the child, one should address it with the child and say that what this person is expressing is not good.
9. Pay attention to the media consumption of your child
Today, children are confronted on all sides with media that propagate alleged beauty ideals, such as being thin. As far as one can influence it as a parent, one should steer the media consumption of his children on programs that celebrate the variety of body shapes, instead of objectionable. TV programs that focus on beauty and appearance should be avoided wherever possible.
In addition, since the body-positivity movement there are also books dealing with the topic.
10. References to successful people who do not meet the ideal of beauty
Prof. Puhl advises: “Consciously pick out people who do not conform to the ideal of beauty but have made great achievements, be it in science, in politics, in the social or in sports.” This teaches children to value all people regardless of their appearance.
Not to judge others for their looks is not easy these days – but a matter of practice …