11 Tips to Inspire Positive Body Image in Boys & Girls

boy with green apples showing biceps face

What would you do if you heard a six year old announce that she looks fat in her dress? Yeah, my jaw would drop, too. Unfortunately, body shaming has made its way from teens to growing kids. It’s not just one of those things that only teen girls whine and moan about. In fact, body shaming is becoming increasingly common in males, too. In fact, “33–35% of boys age 6–8 indicate their ideal body is thinner than their current body,” according to Common Sense Media.

As a parent, it’s important to think about how you will raise your kiddo in a society where body image is apparently “everything.” Because I know that you know pretty damn well that it is NOT everything. Appearance is only skin deep, and we need to teach future generations this message before we all start turning on our own bodies.

Previously, I wrote a post on the things I would teach my own daughter when it comes to a healthy self-esteem and body image. This time around, let’s discuss ways to inspire positive body image in girls and boys.

#1: Don’t body shame in front of your children. Most of us are guilty of it, but it needs to stop now. Setting a good example is the first step.

#2: Don’t use the word “fat” in a negative way. If you hear your kiddo using it in a derogatory way, correct them.

#3: Find the beauty in everything and everyone – and point it out! Whether you see a stranger or a friend, ask your child, “Isn’t her hair so pretty that color?” Or, “doesn’t he have a nice smile?” Diversity is beautiful, and you should bring your child up to celebrate it.

#4: Exercise together. And when I say exercise together, I mean exercising for fun. Don’t say, “let’s walk off that birthday cake.” Instead, walk to take in the neighborhood sights and scenes – and to stay HEALTHY!

#5: Stock your pantry with healthy options. Instilling healthy eating habits in your children from a young age will allow them to eat whenever they are hungry, without loading them up with unhealthy sugars and processed foods. Teach them to celebrate good food, rather than shame them for poor eating habits.

#6: No name calling. “You eat like a pig!” is not the best way to describe your child’s eating habits.

#7: Nix the magazines that bash and critique the celebrities. Particularly women fashion magazines. If the magazine showcases models with unattainable figures… trash it. And no, you won’t be able to shield your kiddos from everything, but it’s a step.

#8: Talk about what is real and what is not. When your child is old enough to have this discussion, it is an important one. The media highly sexualizes the opposite sex, and can warp what tweens and teens think is real and what is not. Managing their expectations and reality will play an important role in how they see others, and themselves.

#9: Set boundaries. Every young girl wants to wear make-up, but how much is too much? A light lip gloss may be fine, but fire-engine-red lips? Save it for later down the line. Celebrate natural beauty with your kids.

#10: Offer plenty of compliments. Not a “you look so thin!” type of compliment, but “that color shirt looks so great on you” kind of compliments. Instead of telling your son he looked buff out on the playing field, how about you compliment his speed or strength? Focusing on good traits rather than appearance can help build a healthy self-esteem in tweens and teens.

#11:Truly accept and understand what your son or daughter is going through. If they are in that stage where they are finding out who they are and trying to fit in, sit down and let them know you understand. You were there once. They may not believe you and try to brush it off, but your words will reach their ears. They’ll take in what you have to say, trust me.

Do you have a tip to share with us? Please discuss in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you.

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