Body image has become a big issue for primary school children. However, the good news is that people are not born with negative body image – it is something that can be prevented.
Body image is affected by the messages we receive as children and throughout our lives. Families are obviously a huge source of influence in any child’s life. Parents and siblings can potentially protect children from negative body image by providing positive role models and by encouraging them to value all their positive features rather than focusing on appearance.
Some tips …
- Monitor the media that your child is exposed to and help them to question the images they see. For example, you can ask your child if the people that they see in their favourite TV shows look like the people that they see in real life, or ask them if they think the models and actors that they see in advertisements really look like that in real life.
- Listen to your child and focus on the feelings behind their behaviours.
- Accept your own body shape and size and do not talk negatively about your body or the bodies of others in front of your child.
- Sit down together as a family to eat balanced, nutritious meals with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables. Understand that your children are growing and have appetites to match – keep nutritious food in the house so that they can grab a healthy snack.
- Be physically active as a family whenever possible and encourage your child to get involved in physical activities. Being active feels good and when we feel good, we tend to treat ourselves better and that includes what foods we decide to eat. Emphasize fun, fitness and health rather than weight loss.
- Avoid over-emphasizing the issue of food and weight and never encourage your child to diet.