It's important to teach children to have a healthy self-esteem, to eat well, exercise often and love their bodies. But how? Parents, look no further!
Here are 28 expert ways to be a positive role model for your children so that they grow up healthy, strong and confident about their looks:
1. Love your own 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 in front of your child.
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 that 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 suppressed and too much is placed on the body instead of allowing real feelings—like sadness, happiness, anger—to emerge. —Jennifer Kelman
4. Get your children involved in sports and other physical activities.
This is one of the greatest ways to instill positive body image. Children gain self-esteem through sports and other physical activities because 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. Don't be the food police!
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 by spending quality time 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. — Jennifer Kelman
7. Choose your words wisely.
Everyone has at least one insecurity that is a direct 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 about 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
8. Give appropriate praise and recognition.
We all thrive on positive affirmations. When parents forget, or get too busy to notice exceptional work on a project or a winning performance, children become discouraged. Studies show that positive recognition can boost performance and increase self-esteem. — Alicia Cramer
9. Apologize when you make a mistake.
It is okay to be imperfect. Sometimes we say or do something to our children that, in retrospect, we regret. When we do make mistakes, however, it is valuable to acknowledge it and apologize. The benefits are twofold. First, we are teaching them to take responsibility. Second, we avoid creating significant trust issues which in turn positively affects their self-confidence. — Alicia Cramer
10. Begin incorporating healthy "family time" activities.
Children are a product of their environments. When you regularly incorporate fun and healthy family activities into your routine, you teach your children healthy habits. Anytime you associate positive emotions with healthy activities, you improve the chances of creating long-term behaviors. Remember, your influence is critical in their development! — Alicia Cramer
11. Work on your own self-image.
Children are very sensitive to your feelings and beliefs. If your child chronically senses (or hears) your dislike for yourself (including your body), they are more likely to form similar associations with their own body and life. There is good news: you can create new positive, loving beliefs right now! As you take proactive steps to improve your own self-image, your children are also likely to do the same. — Alicia Cramer
12. Create a safe-zone for expressing feelings.
When a child has a bad day at school or a coach said something hurtful at practice, it is important for them to feel safe communicating it with you. Many times children will hold in their feelings (and wind up thinking that there is something wrong with them). Clearly this can contribute to some self-worth challenges. However by communicating frequently (and freely), we help put seemingly negative situations into a new context allowing them to learn from the experience without internalizing it in a negative way. — Alicia Cramer
13. Consider hiring a professional.
If your child is depressed or you notice symptoms of an eating disorder, it may be important to get professional assistance. There are many different types of helping professionals. Choose someone that BOTH you and your child feel comfortable with. Your child's well-being should always be your priority. While it may be uncomfortable to face these types of challenges, it is critical. It is important to mindful of your child's physical, mental and emotional health. — Alicia Cramer
14. Don't be negative!
Imagine that every negative comment you mutter about your body is a scorpion bite with venom. Avoid bad thoughts and comments at all costs! Watch your kids pick up on your positive vibe and become much happier in the process. — Tatiana Abend
15. Compliment yourself and others.
Make a list of three things that you really like about your body; then, go out and set a good example! Make an point to compliment those around you. Self-esteem will follow naturally! — Tatiana Abend
16. Prioritize properly.
Sometimes we put too much emphasis on being attractive in life. Teach yourself (and your kids) that problems should be separated and prioritized. Tackle each of life's main areas (health, money, community, education, relationships, etc.) and look to make good, healthy progress by setting appropriate goals in each area. This will boost self-confidence. — Tatiana Abend
17. Don't forget that looks aren't everything.
Teaching your kids a positive body image is also about teaching yourself (and those around you) that beauty is far from everything in life. Despite what the media says, we are not designed to be only egotistical and image-conscious individuals who need to acquire many items and enter in a permanent quest to be "cool." Teaching healthy self-confidence and loving one's body sometimes means avoiding what is in the mirror. — Tatiana Abend
18. Take a compliment for crying outloud!
What do you say when you receive a compliment? Do you instantly negate the compliment with a comment that downplays or degrades you in some way? Being able to receive compliments with a, "Thank you" boosts self-esteem. And others will take notice! — Tatiana Abend
19. Look inward instead of outward.
Magazines, movies and Hollywood tell your children how they should look on the outside but forget to show them how to develop inner beauty. Without teaching the importance of inner beauty, your children may lack the confidence, certainty and passion to pursue who their dreams. — Cory Couillard
20. Encourage positive role models for your children.
Your children's friends are bound to influence their behavior. Their attitudes, beliefs and lifestyle habits will become contagious and soon you will find them expressing the same opinions. Teach and communicate the importance a healthy circle of friends that encourages and empowers each other. — Cory Couillard
21. Remember: skinny does NOT mean healthy.
Regardless of what you weigh, your lifestyle is the determining factor of overall health. Anyone can be skinny if they starve themselves or follow strange diets, but skinny does NOT mean healthy. Teach your children to choose a healthy diet, exercise regularly and manage their stress to achieve optimal health throughout life. — Cory Couillard
22. Your children are your best accountability partners.
This can range from eating your vegetables and exercising daily to managing your stress. Do you have a healthy group of friends that facilitates and encourages healthy living? Your children can be your best accountability partners! If they see that you are committed, they will follow suit. — Cory Couillard
23. Live a life of purpose.
Understand that healthy lifestyle factors such as diet, exercise and stress management will provide your body with the resources to achieve optimal health. Passionate and purposeful living is contagious and will inspire your children and loved ones to pursue their passions. — Cory Couillard
24. Create an environment of excellence.
Reward healthy behaviors versus punishing unhealthy choices. This will encourage children to desire positive versus negative lifestyle factors. Improved fitness, dietary choices and life management will become positive habits that bring one closer to their goals, dreams and desires. — Cory Couillard
25. Empower your child through positivity.
The power of spoken words can create or destroy the mindset and health of a child. Speak into your children's life and encourage them that they will leave a unique mark in this world. Positive reinforcement encourages and empowers versus focusing on the negative. — Cory Couillard
26. Take control of your healthy lifestyle (so your children can too).
Comparing pants size, bra size or shoe size creates unrealistic and unachievable desires. Accepting who you are is key. Each and everyone one of us is unique, and we need to focus on what we can control versus what we cannot. A healthy lifestyle is something we can control. — Cory Couillard
27. Grow up! And let your children grow up too.
Growing is a continual improvement like education over many years. Many challenges are needed in life to develop strong character, integrity and perseverance. Provide an environment of continual growing and learning to achieve balance socially, professionally and personally. — Cory Couillard
28. Get rid of the junk food ASAP.
A healthy diet is only achievable if you do not have the bad choices in your pantry. If you have ice cream, soda and potato chips available instead of carrot sticks, which will be eaten? You and your children are a product of your environment. So clean that pantry out! — Cory Couillard
Practice delayed gratification and simply not always giving your children what they want, even if you can easily afford it.
More juicy content from YourTango:
- 10 Tips For Raising Perfect, Unspoiled Angel Kids
- 10 Tips To Re-Bond With Your Kids
- 20 Children's Books That Are Both Horrifying and Hilarious