Struggling with positive body image is nothing new, and it is not just a problem with teenagers.
This is something that I have struggled with for a long time and I have seen it an issue with children as early as 5 and go all the way up to people in their 60’s!
The struggle with our body image comes from what we believe our body is expected to look like!
It can be what we expect of ourselves or who we compare ourselves to. It does not seem to matter what age we are…the struggle is always there.
If we as adults have a hard time with this, we can be sure that our kids are going to feel the pressure as well.
We may be noticing it and thinking about our own bodies in a negative way and not even realize it!
If we aren’t thinking about it for ourselves, we are probably not thinking of ways to encourage a healthy body image in our kids.
Here are 4 ways to encourage a healthy body image in our kids.
1. Talk positively about your own body
This is so hard for me, and I never even realized how many times I would make comments about what my body looked like in a negative way. It might just be an under the breath comment, or a sigh as I look in the mirror, but our kids are watching us.
They pick up on the smallest things.
Start talking positively about your own body (or at least not talking negatively about it!)
Either eat the food and enjoy it, or don’t eat it at all!
Just don’t make a big deal about it.
2. Don’t impose your health needs on your kids
Recently, I overheard someone recommending to one of my children that they should have water instead of the snack they had asked for.
I cringed a little.
Don’t get me wrong. I think that it’s always a good idea to teach our kids to drink more water and to not just eat because they feel like eating.
But what happens is, we start thinking of how we have felt the last few times we ate something late at night.
I am in my 40’s.
My metabolism is slower.
I am exercising less than my kids who are in 2 sports right now.
Once I hit 35, everything started changing for me.
I could no longer eat like garbage, then take a week of eating good to lose the 5 pounds I had gained!
Let your kids be kids. I mean, teach them self-control of course.
But if they want to eat a snack that might make you feel bad, don’t keep it away from them for that reason alone.
3. Don’t assume they don’t struggle with their body image
Just because they don’t make comments about their body to your face does not mean that it’s not on their mind.
Pay attention to passing comments, pay attention to what their friends are saying or what other people are saying to them.
Just pay attention.
This is for a different post at a different time, but check out who your kids are following on their social media accounts.
When your kids are following celebrities who flaunt their sometimes sickly-skinny bodies, they are seeing this every day. They are seeing the positive comments left, they are seeing the likes on the post, and they are seeing that being skinny equals popularity or acceptance.
Just something to think about.
It might blow your mind what kids consider “fat”. You have to almost assume these days that they are thinking about what they look like.
And don’t think this is just an issue with girls.
It.is.not. Boys can struggle with body image just as much as girls.
Just pay attention and be that constant voice of encouragement in their lives.
4. Always be encouraging them to focus on their inward qualities
I know. This kind of seems obvious, but think about it for a minute.
When a person is so consumed with what their body looks like, they are just that…consumed with themselves.
I know it sounds harsh, but whether your kids are thinking negatively of themselves or positively of themselves, the issue you are dealing with is pride!
We need to help them focus on what they look like on the inside.
How they respect authority.
How they respond to correction.
How they show self control.
How they are serving others.
How they are passing on joy to other people.
These are things we want to really encourage!
Focusing on those inward qualities will show them how much more important it is to be spending time getting better on the inside and caring less about what they look like on the outside.
It’s hard. Raising kids in days where everyone is posting selfies, everyone is rating each other, and “perfection” is shown as a certain size.
But we are raising our kids on purpose.
With a goal.
We are teaching them that it starts with us, and then we encourage them to focus on what God values as important.
We are teaching them that God created them exactly as they are with a specific purpose and plan for them.
Let’s remind them of how valuable they are as many times as possible!