Body Image and Children
I am a perfectionist, I have always been hard on myself and my body is no exception. It is natural for me to think I should be leaner, have more muscle, be faster. On one hand this is great motivation for me and on the other hand I have to be careful to not take it too far. The truth? I actually like my body and I know that I am too hard on myself. But the other day as I saw my daughter watching me I realized that she didn't know that...
Mayda and I have good morning routine. She sits in her pack and play drinking her bottle and looking at books while also watching me put on makeup, do my hair, and get ready for work. The other day I was having a typical girly "fat day" and lifted up my shirt to look at my belly in the mirror and said, "ughh" as I pinched my belly in disgust. To me, it was just an insecure girl moment but I realized that Mayda was watching me. It hit me at that moment that I was absolutely sending her wrong messages. In my head I knew I was just being dramatic and moody about my belly but to her I was declaring-"this is not okay! I am disgusted with my body!" when in fact that isn't REALLY what I thought. I made a vow that moment to really watch what I say and do in front of Mayda about my body. Up until then I had filtered what we have on the TV, what she eats, and I do not curse in front of her but it had never crossed my mind to watch what I say about my body. Oops! Here are my tips for mothers to help our daughters (and even sons!) with their self-esteem/body image:
1. Avoid Negative self-talk in front of our children-Even if we are having a "fat day" or aren't feeling our best we should keep that in our head and not declare it out loud. When we express negative feelings about ourselves out loud we teach them that it is okay to have negative self-talk.
2. Keep certain Magazine & TV shows out of the house-A lot of famous people on TV get paid to look good and a lot of girls in magazines are air brushed and touched up. If you have these things around the house it teaches our children that is is what average or real people look like and that is far from the truth.
3. Focus on health rather than vanity-Teach your children the importance of eating healthy foods and working out because it is good for you, not just because it makes you looks good. There are a lot of skinny people out there who are out of shape and unhealthy. There are else overweight people who have malnutrition.
4. Make Nutrition and working out fun-teach your children different ways to cook healthy options and alternatives to junk or processed food. Make fitness fun not a chore. Play flashlight tag as a family, have your children try yoga with you, cook together.
5. Promote Positive self-talk-make it a habit to tell your children that you love them and praise them for little things and comment on how good they look on normal days. Don't save praise for big occasions or sporting events. If your teenage daughter is upset about a pimple say, "Everyone gets pimples, it is normal! Your hair looks fantastic today!"
It will not come easy to change the way we talk or act in front of our children but it is worth the effort. I encourage you to join me on this new journey!