Love the skin you’re in
Children and teens are bombarded with hundreds of messages a day from advertisers, the media, and social media outlets telling them what is and isn’t beautiful. At a time when building a healthy self-esteem is critical, it can be challenging for young people to wade through the clutter and find ways to accept and love themselves for who they are.
The SickKids Foundation’s HealthAndHappy.com, which is designed to bring to the forefront health issues that affect children, has some wonderful ways to help promote a positive body image in your child. Since body dissatisfaction affects 90% of women and girls and 40%-60% of men and boys—and can even be seen in children as young as five years old, according to SickKids—it’s more important than ever to make sure our children feel confident and secure with their bodies.
Start with yourself:
- Are you unhappy with your own size or weight? Do you talk about this in front of your children or teenagers?
- Are you constantly on, or about to start, a diet?
- Do you talk about feeling guilty when you eat certain foods?
- Do you make negative comments about the way other people look in front of your children?
It’s important to set a good example and be careful not to send the wrong messages to children who may be more apt to follow your lead rather than follow your rules. Curb negative self-talk, be conscious of not making comments about what others look like, and focus on the nutritional goodness of healthy foods rather than their ability to help you lose weight.
Try these tips and suggestions from SickKids for promoting a healthy body image in your child:
- Place more emphasis on your child’s abilities and skills rather than their appearance.
- Be a role model by having a positive attitude about food and exercise and accepting your own body.
- Make and eat healthy family meals together.
- Help your kids to think critically about the messages and images they see and hear in the media. For example, remind them that advertisements are designed to get people to do or buy something—they are usually not realistic depictions of what life is like—and point out that most photographs are digitally altered to erase flaws and normal imperfections.
- Try to help your child understand that their body is constantly changing—particularly during puberty.
- Promote and participate in activities that make your child feel good about themselves and that don’t focus on their appearance.
- Teach your child that it’s okay to express emotions like sadness, anger and frustration.
A child with a healthy body image is less likely to engage in unhealthy eating practices like dieting and binge eating, so helping your child love the skin they’re in can contribute their overall health and well being.
412310G CAN/US (04/15)