Body Confidence – Having confidence in your body is determined by accepting and being happy with how your body looks and what it can do. It is also about respecting it and tuning in to its needs.
The family environment is an influential space for many issues, including body image, and there are many things we can do to help promote a positive body image in our children.
Make it a family affair
- Encourage an entire family approach to health, nutrition and activity.
- Promote and role model a healthy lifestyle and healthy choices.
- Get active
- Get enough sleep
- Eat a balanced diet with a wide range of whole foods.
- Show your children that healthy comes in all shapes and sizes, that diversity is good and that there is no such thing as a perfect shape and size.
- Help them recognise the various messages coming through social media and challenge these.
- Keep positive comments about appearance to a minimum.
- Encourage children to value themselves for other than their appearance – their worth as a person is not dependent on what they look like.
- Reinforce your child’s achievements, abilities, efforts, passions, interests, values and personal attributes e.g. Being kind, compassionate, courageous, thoughtful, generous, or an advocate.
- Encourage and guide boys to see girls as more than just their bodies. Help them to value girls as people with abilities and not to comment on their appearance.
- Give children a language to manage social situations around appearance talk or judgement e.g.
- ‘It doesn’t matter to me what she looks like; she is kind and funny and she is my friend’.
- ‘My body is strong and healthy and helps me run around and have fun’.
- Help children see that their bodies have been given to them so that they can live their lives – their bodies do not define them as people.
- Encourage and support your child to celebrate their own unique body for what it can enable them to do.
If you or your child is concerned
- If your child ever voices that they are concerned or feeling anxious about their weight, body shape and size, appearance, teasing at school etc – do not ignore it, it needs to be addressed. This is an opportunity for discussion and to connect with your child, so please listen to them.
- If you are concerned that your child is overweight, be careful not to food or body shame them or place them on a restrictive diet – being overweight does not define them as being unhealthy. Instead:
- Focus on a balanced and healthy approach to food and exercise.
- Help them to listen to what their body needs. Like the family car, their body needs the right fuel for them to function properly.
- Help them to eat because they are hungry, not because they are bored or emotional.
- Encourage appropriate exercise and movement.
- Consult your GP if you require further information or support.
This post is written by Anna Young B.Nursing, GradDipNursing (Mental Health), M.Counselling, a Nurse Counsellor in Brisbane and mother of 2 kids.