From emaciated models walking on the runway to celebrities barely leaving any skin covered in magazines and billboards constantly bombard your children with these images that project being skinny and eating unhealthily is right, as the optimum standard of beauty and finesse. These negative images that inundate your child on a daily basis may compel your child to hate their bodies deeming it unacceptable and lowers their self esteem, leading them to develop unhealthy eating practices, the primary factor in the eating disorders anorexia and bulimia. It is therefore crucial that parents educate and support their child consciously develop a healthy body image. There are several measures parents can take to ensure that their children grow up confident of themselves and not be influence by the standards of beauty the media is trying to portray.
- Be your child’s role model – imagine this scenario, you are in front of a mirror consciously poking at your imperfections, your projection will instill in your child that bodily imperfections are nasty and your child will bring this thought as she gets older.
- Encourage acceptance – everybody is equal in the eyes of God, everybody was created equally upon His likeness, with this in mind encourage your child to accept whatever imperfections she has because that’s what makes life meaningful. Remind her that beauty is not only skin deep and that she does not need to look like the models to become loved and accepted, we are all unique and special in our own little way.
- Forgo with weighing scales – it’s unnecessary to weigh yourselves and will only add up to the stigma that being weightless equates to beauty and happiness.
- Educate your child about genetics and its relationship to weight – that there are people who are born naturally skinny and some are bone with bigger bone structures and that this is completely normal.
- Discuss Dieting versus Healthy Lifestyle – encourage her to live a healthy lifestyle and eat a balanced well-rounded diet rather than dieting and starving herself. As we all know, an astounding 95 per cent of all dieting fads fail, it is vital that your child is aware of this making her less likely to do so.
- Use positive body messages – a hug. A cuddle. A kiss. A massage on your child’s weary body after school or play sends a message that they are accepted for whoever and whatever they are. It connotes a sense of acceptance that their bodies are lovable, which greatly impacts their mental perceptions about body image.
- Stand up for your child – in instances that you hear people comment negatively on your child’s weight or shape, stand up for them and assure them that they are loved because bullying leads to a disturbance in their perception of their body image until adulthood.
- Educate your child about junk foods and their harmful effects to the body – junk foods contain a high amount of trans fat that are harmful for your child, it does not only contribute to rapid weight gain but harmful to their blood vessels. Give an emphasis of the harmful effects these have to our bodies, the associated diseases junk foods may cause.
These are some of the steps you can take to ensure that your child grows up to have a healthy perception of their body image. Because a confident child, empirically becomes more productive and responsible in society.