What is body image?

Body image is our view of how we look, and how that makes us feel. It’s not about what we actually see in the mirror. It’s something we learn from the people around us, and from the way we talk to ourselves.

Why is body image important?

If your child is worrying that they don’t look ‘right’ it can chip away at their self-esteem. They may want to change their appearance, hide their ‘flaws’, or avoid people altogether.

When your child has good body image, they’ll value themselves as they are. They’ll be less likely to feel that they have to change the way they look to make others like them.

Anyone can learn body confidence and know how to handle negative thoughts. This means your child can be comfortable being themselves.

Common worries about body image

Children’s bodies go through lots of changes very quickly. It’s natural for them to feel sensitive about this. Your child might experience some anxious feelings about fitting in with others. They may start noticing or comparing:

  • What their bodies can and can’t do.
  • Weight, height or body shape.
  • Skin and hair.
  • Cultural and other differences.
  • Maturity, such as who’s started shaving or wearing a bra.
  • Clothes and accessories.

This can be a lot to cope with at any age, so be careful not to dismiss your child’s feelings. Let them know you’re listening and ask how you can support them to feel good about themselves.

We’ve got some tips on how you can help your child be body confident.

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This advice was written by our experienced Parent Talk coaches. Parent Talk is a free online service for parents and carers, provided by the charity Action for Children. For more advice, message our parenting coaches with our online chat.

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