How can I help my child be body confident?

Body image and our relationships with our bodies can be an issue for many of us, but especially children and teenagers.

They are going through lots of physical changes and are suddenly very conscious of what their body is doing and what they look like. It can be an upsetting and worrying time for your child or teen.

Here we outline some tips to help you encourage your child to be body confident.

Mum and daughter cuddling

Be aware of language used

  • Try not to use the word ‘weight’ with your child. Talk more about self-care, feeling healthy and choosing foods and exercise that fuel your body with energy. Sometimes talking about weight is necessary but ensure they know it’s only one measure of health.
  • Talk about taking care of yourself and feeling good.
  • Talk about having a strong and healthy body.
  • Here’s our tips on how to help your child have a healthy relationship with food.
  • Talk about how there are many different body shapes and sizes and that’s ok, comment positively on people of all shapes and sizes in real life and in the media/on TV.

Help your child value what makes them unique

  • Put a sticky note for each family member on the fridge for everyone to list their achievements, talents and positive behaviour. Update it regularly!
  • Remember to reward your child for who they are. For example, praising their kindness, or saying you love their jokes or the way they never give up.
  • You can read books together about being special or unique, such as “Oh, the places you’ll go” by Dr Seuss.
  • By helping your child see what makes them special, you are giving them the confidence to be ok with anything that they think makes them different.

Teenager body confidence

  • Celebrate what their bodies can do. It doesn’t have to be sweaty or hard work – even gardening or going for a walk together is a good start.
  • Talk to your child about the images they see on the internet, in magazines and on TV. Look for ways these may have been styled or airbrushed and discuss if this changes how they feel about them.
  • Help your child notice their mood after using social media or when they compare themselves to others.

Set a good example

  • Think about how you talk about your own body.
  • Don’t talk about your weight and dieting in front of your children. Show self-love and teach them to love their bodies by loving your own. The way we treat ourselves is important for how your children will treat themselves now and in the future.
  • Help your child to have a healthy relationship with food.
  • Make healthy choices about food and exercise. Try not to buy crisps, cakes and biscuits and have healthy snacks readily available. Encourage your children to participate in sports and exercise either with you or with other children.
  • Grow veg and fruit in pots and baskets so children learn where food comes from.
  • Get creative in the kitchen with your children – if they are involved in food prep they will be more likely to try new foods and tuck in to what they have made!
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