With disturbing numbers of kids worrying about their weight, dieting and being afraid of becoming fat it's time to help kids learn to love their bodies instead.
Here are 5 ways:
- Teach gratitude toward the body. Tell them what you appreciate about your body. Ask them what they appreciate about theirs. For example, "I appreciate how my tastebuds allow me to enjoy my food." or "I am grateful for my arms because they allow me to give hugs."
- Focus on what the body does, not how it looks. Talk about how amazing the body is in its capabilities. Stop commenting on the appearance of others (e.g. "You look so cute!" or "She's really gained some weight."). Appearance comments subtly tell kids that their worth is based on their appearance.
- Celebrate uniqueness and body diversity. Talk to kids about how all bodies are different and how cool that is. It would be boring if we all looked the same. What makes us unique makes us special.
- Have fun with movement. Kids like to play, so get out there and have fun with them! Instead of teaching your kids about exercise or taking them to the gym, play games instead. Try various sports, playing tag, go to the park, splash around in the pool. Get creative!
- Talk to them about the normal changes the body goes through. The average girl gains 40 pounds puberty and the average boy 45 pounds. That's a lot of change in a relatively short period of time. She may not realize that this is what her body is supposed to be doing.
Overall it is important to focus on the promotion of healthy behaviors and attitudes. Fear-mongering is not helpful and sets kids up for a lifetime of tumultuous dieting, body hatred, even eating disorders.
Our bodies do a lot of amazing things, so let's practice kindness toward them instead of hatred.
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