Welcome to YourTango Experts 7-day intensive event, Love Your Body: Day 2! Today is all about teaching your kids to love their bodies. Let's get started!
We can all agree it's important to teach our children to have a healthy self-esteem, to eat well, exercise often and love their bodies. The question is: how? Below are our experts' best tips for how to be a positive role model for your kids so that they grow up healthy, strong and confident about the way they look.
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1. Love your body. If you don't feel good about your own body, it will be difficult for your children to feel good about theirs. Remember: we are our children's guides. —Jennifer Kelman
2. Pay attention to how you speak about your body. How often do you say things like, "I'm so fat?" If you speak like that about your body, your child will begin to parrot those exact sentiments. —Jennifer Kelman
3. Remember: fat is not a feeling. When we say things like "I feel so fat," we teach our kids to use their bodies to describe their feelings. Eating disorders and poor body image develop when feelings are pushed down and too much focus on the body takes place instead of allowing real feelings — e.g. sadness, happiness, anger — to emerge. —Jennifer Kelman
4. Involve your children in sports and other physical activities. This is one of the greatest ways to instill positive body image. Through sports and other physical activities, kids gain self-esteem through the mastery of sport. They learn to love their bodies for what their bodies can do rather than what their bodies look like. Instill the love of sports and physical recreation at a young age to make this a life-long love. —Jennifer Kelman
5. Place less emphasis on what your child eats. Rather than keeping a prying eye on your child, worrying whether they will get fat, and commenting on what or how much they are eating, pull back a bit. If you know that you are providing healthy meals, then you don't need to be the food police. The more you focus on it, the more your child will too ... and not in a good way. —Jennifer Kelman
6. Spend quality time with your child. Kids develop healthy self esteem and a sense of efficacy over things by spending wonderful times with their parents. Praise your child when it is warranted but don't over-praise because then your child will only be able to feel good about themselves when being praised. The goal is for them to develop an internal sense of pride and healthy esteem and body image and that comes from you, the parent, laying the groundwork. —Jennifer Kelman
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7. Choose your words wisely. Virtually all of us can think of one or more personal insecurity that was a result of someone's unkind words. Your children look up to you. Therefore, they are naturally susceptible to your criticism. If you make it a point to be more mindful of what you say, specifically when you are angry or frustrated, it can be the difference between healthy self-confidence and low self-worth. —Alicia Cramer
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