Healthy body image in children: what parents can do

Body image

A parent being positive about eating and what people look like can make an enormous difference to how a child feels about their own appearance. Young Minds present their three tips to encourage a positive body image.

1 Refrain from negative body talk

Most parents know that their kids see them as role models (even if it doesn’t always seem that way!) and this is still true when it comes to eating habits and body image. If your child regularly hears you complaining about your body, describing certain foods as 'off-limits,' or saying you need to lose weight, it may have an effect on their perception of their own body. When discussing diet, body and exercise, try to focus on good health rather than self-criticism.

2 Focus on the positive

Instead of focusing on foods you can’t eat, or exercises you must do, try to discuss healthy habits you can enjoy together. Encourage your kids to join you in cooking a new healthy recipe, or going for a bike ride. If your healthy diet and exercise habits are fun for the whole family and your conversations revolve around building healthy bodies together, your kids will be better poised to focus on the positives about their health.

3 Choose your media consumption wisely

We all know that our kids are bombarded with images of a certain flawless body type and no amount of parental intervention is going to change that, in the short term at any rate. But at home, you can do your best to engage with media that depicts a range of healthy body images. For instance, if you have a daughter who’s obsessed with stick-thin models and actresses, try to watch female athletes and talk about what having a fit body really means. 

Further reading

Building self-esteem

 

The advice published on Parent Info is provided by independent experts in their field and not necessarily the views of Parent Zone or NCA-CEOP.

First published: September 2014

Updated: ​May 2018

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