Talking to our kids about body image is really important no matter what body size they are, underweight, normal weight or overweight. It is up to us as parents to help them develop a good self-image regardless of how much they weigh. I used to think boys did not have problems with self-image but they, too, look into the mirror and wonder who they are and what they are worth.
We teach kids how to do other things like how to use the bathroom, how to shower and how to brush their teeth. Why is it we expect them to know how to have a good self-image? These things need to be taught too. Advisor Wayne Fleisig, Ph.D. states that “The same is true for the values we want them to learn, such as the importance of healthful eating habits or why it’s wrong to be cruel to others about their weight.”
One of the things we need to do as parents is be careful how we talk about our own bodies when the kids are around. It is so easy for them to pick up the negativity we may express in ways we don’t even realize. If we are always talking about going on a diet they are going to get the message that it is not good to weigh too much, but yet have no idea how much is too much.
Fat has become a major social and health issue in our society with obesity and eating disorders on the rise. It seems that doctors, schools and even families have failed when it comes to talking to kids about this issue. Kids today are more likely to be obese or have an eating disorder than ever before. Today, 17% of our kids our obese. This is an increase of 300% from over 30 years ago, according to Obesity Society.
Focus on health and behavior rather than appearance or weight when you talk to them. It is more important that they learn healthy behaviors when it comes to eating and exercise. While you do, this try some of these helpful hints, too.
You and your child are two different beings. It is important to remember that your child is not you and has their own psychological and genetic make-up which makes them different from the get go.
- Talk to your child based on their perspective of life, not yours.
- Do not use hurtful or shameful words to talk to them. It does not help to call them fatty, hefty or even obese for that matter.
- Organize your discussion based on the problem. Each problem you talk to your child about may need a different speaking voice. The problem may not be what you initially think it is; find out what it is.
- Seek professional input if you are not sure how to speak to them. There is nothing wrong with speaking to a professional first.
- If your child does have a problem with body image don’t blame yourself. This will not solve anything and it is better to deal with the situation at hand.