Everyone wants to be called beautiful (or handsome or cool or cute or other favorable adjectives of appearance). Often, we want that validation from others, and when such validations do not come, we resort to seeking it in other unbeneficial ways.
A positive body image is critical for children. Body image is a person’s perception about his or her looks and the assumption that others see them that way too. Negative body image in kids has a range of adverse effects, such as low self-esteem, compulsive exercise, depression, and anxiety.
Body Image Statistics
Do you know that:
- About 80% of women in the U.S. are uncomfortable with their looks.
- 34% of men aren’t okay with their bodies.
- Many Americans (over 50%) are dissatisfied with their weight.
- 70% of women with average weight want to be slimmer.
- Over 80% of 10-year-old kids are scared of becoming fat.
- An alarming 53% of 13-year-old girls are not happy with their bodies. At 17 years old, this number reaches 78%.
- About 46% of children who are 9 to 11 years old are often dieting.
These are not good figures. But they are statistics we can upturn before our kids become adults. We can teach them to develop a positive body image and to be comfortable in their own skin.
Positive Body Image in Kids
Kids who have a positive body image are very comfortable with their bodies. They are always happy with their looks and body size. Body image is a part of a kid’s whole self-image. Their opinions of their bodies form at a very young age.
- At the age of 2, kids start to know themselves.
- At 4 years old, they start comparing themselves to others. At this stage, the main concern is their hair and their clothing.
- At 5, kids start becoming concerned about their body size.
Parents can play a pivotal role in helping children develop a positive body image. We must ensure that our kids are not included in the statistics above.
A child with a positive body image will be confident and have high self-esteem. Positive body image begins in the early stages. This is why, at every step, parents, teachers, guardians, and all responsible adults must support children to initiate a positive body image. This is a crucial issue, which I covered in detail in my: It’s All About Me Mindfulness and Empowerment Personal Development Coaching Program for Kids
Your child will be happy when you…
- Say, “See how tall you’ve grown, Peter—even taller than me!”
- Compliment their new hairdo.
- Watch them do their thing on their skateboard, run, or play a game.
These affirmations will help them form a positive attitude about themselves. They will be comfortable with who they are because your words and actions say so.
Here are a few things we can do to develop a positive body image in children:
Always say something kind about how they look: How do you feel when, as you step out for the day’s work, your partner says, “You look so beautiful/handsome,” or “Go and show them that you know your stuff.” It makes you feel confident, right? Even when you seem to be sliding—boom!—you remember what he or she said, and you are back on your feet. The same thing happens to kids, and it is even more reassuring for them. Saying something nice will lift their confidence to the heavens.
Teach the child that all humans are beautiful the way they are: We must tell kids that we are all beautiful—stout or slim, tall or short, physically challenged or healthy. Let kids know that being beautiful is not about having a size 8 figure, curly hair, broad shoulders, etc. They should know that for them to be beautiful, they must first see the beauty in their own eyes. And it is our duty as parents, teachers, guardians, and adults to tell them that they are fantastic as they are. We must keep building up their self-image.
Never criticize their body size or looks: Positive body image is about perception. When you say something like “I think you are too fat,” they will perceive themselves as inadequate. Instead, tell them about the great benefits of being their size and how it could lead to an excellent career path.
Encourage kids to participate in sports: When kids participate in sports, we must be there for them as parents or guardians to cheer them on. As teachers, we must silence any bullish language from classmates that may entrench a negative body image in other kids as they engage in sports.
Does your kid know that you are proud of their actions? Hey, do not keep your mouth shut when your heart is happy with what your child has done. Telling the child that you are pleased with how they take care of their body will help them stay comfortable as they are.
If negative body image has affected your child in impossible ways, you need a body image coach: Engage the services of a body image coach when it appears that the bug has bitten deeper than you can handle. Body image coaches are trained to help children undress negative body image from their psyche.
I have written a a collection of Personal Development Workbook to help children develop and Positive Mindset so they can truly love and accept themselves for who they are on the inside and the outside.