Simple Parenting

Parents Share Their Tips For Promoting a Positive Body Image

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I think my kids are the most beautiful children on the planet (yours too, I bet!) – but that doesn’t mean they always love their own bodies.

I collected some great tips from REAL moms about how they’re helping their kids develop a positive body image – I hope it inspires you as much as it inspired me!

“We tell our 5-year-old that everyone is different,” says one mom named Nikki. “People come in all shapes and sizes, and everyone has SOMETHING beautiful about them, whether it’s their eyes, their hair, or their soul.”

Embracing your own self confidence and showing your kiddos how comfortable in your own skin is one way to give them a visual model of what positive body image looks like. “I walk around in my undies and tank a lot to show that it’s OK to be happy with who you are,” says Tatiana.

Sometimes your attitude about your body can be affected by your attitudes about other things. Think about it—anyone who considers exercise to be a chore and food as a reward is going to have a hard time having a healthy relationship with their body. “My son and I eat healthy and we exercise together. I tell him that food and exercise are fuel that helps our bodies perform well,” says Christine.

Supportive and encouraging words go a long way to boosting our kids’ confidence and self esteem, but avoiding words that can have a negative impact is just as important. “Sometimes it’s not just what you say, it’s what you don’t say. For example, I never tell my child they are too skinny or too big,” explains Rena.

“I exercise every day and tell my kids I do it to keep healthy. I try to emphasize things that are healthy versus unhealthy instead of discussing being fat or skinny,” says Meghan, explaining another way word choice matters.

Another mom, Mercedes, couldn’t agree more. “I am not skinny, but I make sure they never hear me hate on myself. My girls also have an amazing father who tells me each and every day that I am beautiful just the way I am,” she says.

Tania adds, “I focus on using words such as ‘tall, strong, and powerful.’ I never use words like fat or ugly in front of my kids…because these words are socially charged and have deep implications.”

Christianna has another way to help her daughter feel good about herself—all the time. “We emphasize how beautiful she is often, especially when she just wakes up and her hair is messy, times like that.”

But in the end, it all comes back to the most basic, important thing:

Robyn is Editor-in-Chief at ParentsTogether and is co-author of several NYTimes bestselling anthologies. She lives in southern Michigan with her husband and five children.