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7 Tips to Build a Positive Body Image in Your Child


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Children grow up so quickly! Doesn’t it feel like yesterday when you had to bribe your daughter to let you put on hair clips to pull her bangs back? Now you can’t tear her away from the mirror, as she is all of a sudden so absorbed with her looks.

As children approach their teenage years, they start going through major changes in their outward appearance and naturally become more and more interested in how they look. It is also during this time that they start forming their own body image. Their body image is how they perceive their body; it is their opinion of their outward appearance. It can be influenced by their experiences and shaped by the opinions of others and by cultural messages, most prominent of which is found on TV, magazines and all forms of media. With so much hype about looking a certain way to be “accepted, ” more and more young ones are getting pressured to conform. And with such skewed, unattainable standards, children are easily led into thinking that they are not good enough and start to develop poor body image.

A negative body image can foster feelings of depression, hopelessness and anxiety. It will affect your children’s self-confidence, self-acceptance and self-worth. As parents, we are in a unique position of influence to help our children build a positive body image and boost their self-esteem to be the best that they can be. Here are a few tips:

  • What’s inside counts just as much. Teach your children that their physical appearance is just one part of who they are as individuals. Their whole being is a unique collection of both their inner and outer characteristics. But be sure not to overreact. There is nothing wrong with wanting to look their best. This helps them build their self-esteem. For example, maybe they are spending a little more time carefully matching hair accessories to go with their wardrobe. This is nothing to worry about unless it starts consuming them and causes them to lose focus on other things.

  • Open up. Ask your kids for their opinions about how bodies are depicted in the media. For example, if you’re watching TV, start a dialog with them and ask them a question like “Do you think everyday people really look like that?”

  • Be a good role model. Do you criticize your own body? When you put yourself down in front of your children, you are giving them the impression that it's okay not to like yourself. Children are very impressionable and learn quickly from what they see and hear so you need to be extra cautious with your actions.

  • Health is wealth! Teach your children about good health and proper nutrition. Stick to the facts and avoid myths or social expectations. Body size alone is not a sufficient indicator of health.

  • Look around you. Do the images and products that you have at home also promote a healthy and positive body image? Check the magazines you have lying around or the TV shows that you love to watch. What message do they send? Will these help you teach your children about body acceptance and diversity?

  • No sugarcoating! Let’s face it: the world can be pretty harsh when it comes to our outward appearances. Encourage your kids to stay positive and not let outside pressures and shallow standards consume them. Start while they are young, and praise them when they make little strides to better themselves, both on the physical and emotional sides. Like when your daughter coordinates her new blouse with a new headband by herself or when she willingly shares her toys with her friends. Building confidence and self-assurance from an early age can help prepare them better for life’s ups and downs.

Rachelle Salinger is a freelance writer whose two passions in life are: family and fashion. This mother of two loves to stay on the loop of the latest trends in hair accessories and the best baby gifts in the market. She currently writes for No Slippy Hair Clippy, purveyor of the finest non-slip hair clips for girls of all ages.


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