It’s no secret that the world is increasingly image-obsessed. Whether it’s lifestyle magazines telling women to look younger or muscle-building products aimed at men, the world of advertising thrives off human insecurities, and it doesn’t look like this will change anytime soon.
Our obsession with looking perfect is affecting our kids too. According to a study by Common Sense Media, children as young as five feel negative toward their bodies, so it’s never too early to teach your children to love themselves. Here are three top tips for raising body-positive kids.
Young Children: Monitor Media Influence
Most parents let their kids watch a little TV each day so they can take a much-needed rest or get on with household chores. It’s important to pay attention to what your child is watching, however, as kids’ TV tends to be full of antiquated gender stereotypes that influence the way our children perceive themselves. Avoid TV shows and games in which boys are overly masculine and young girls are made to look pretty. Instead, choose books and TV that offer a diverse range of characters, including those of different sizes, ethnicities, abilities and genders.
Older Children: Don’t Disregard Their Concerns
Don’t tell your child she is silly or over-dramatic when she points out a perceived flaw in her appearance. Listen to her insecurities and try to address them rationally. Telling your child that she’s wrong not to like her hair or the shape of her nose will not change how she feels. Plus, she is unlikely to trust your judgment – you are her parent after all.
Instead of minimizing your child’s distress, ask her where these thoughts and feelings about herself have come from: does she genuinely feel this way, or has someone said something at school to make her question the way she looks? Take action by introducing body confident role models and show her that image isn’t everything.
Teenagers: When Insecurities Don’t Go Away
Some of us have insecurities from a young age that we don’t just grow out of. If your child is bothered by her birthmark or a misshapen nose, help her see that everyone has quirks and that removing them won’t necessarily stop her feeling insecure.
If your child says she wants surgery to correct her appearance, don’t laugh it off. Calmly explain that she may feel different when she’s old enough to make that decision, (it’s up to you to determine the appropriate age), but that you will support her when the time comes if that’s what she chooses. Let her know she looks great the way she is, and that everyone has insecurities. If she still wants corrective surgery as an adult, encourage her to visit a reputable clinic like Rhinoplasty Newport Beach to ensure the procedure is above board.
With media and advertising designed to make us feel as though we’re not good enough, it’s easy to see how we create insecure children. The good news is, by careful use of language and monitoring outside influences, there are things we can do to help combat negativity body image in the home.