Teaching self-confidence and body acceptance at a young age is CRUCIAL.
It's important to teach kids to have a healthy self-esteem, to eat well, exercise often and love their bodies. But how? Parents, look no further!
Here are 10 expert ways to be a positive role model for your kids so that they grow up healthy, strong and confident about their looks:
1. First of all, love your own body.
If you don't feel good about your own body, it will be difficult for your kids to feel good about theirs. Remember: we are our kids'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 emphasis is placed on the body instead of allowing real feelings (sadness, happiness, anger) to emerge. —Jennifer Kelman
4. ... and that skinny does NOT mean healthy.
Regardless of what you weigh, your lifestyle determines your overall health. Anyone can be skinny if they starve themselves or follow strange diets, but skinny does NOT mean healthy. Teach your kids to eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly and manage their stress to achieve optimal health. — Cory Couillard
5. Don't be the food police!
Rather than acting like the food police, pull back a bit. There's NO need for policing if you know you're putting healthy meals on the table! The more you focus on food, the more your child will too ... and not in a good way. — Jennifer Kelman
6. BUT consider getting rid of the junk food.
A healthy diet is only achievable if you do not have the bad options (*cough* ice cream, soda, chips *cough*) in your pantry. Obviously your kids are going to go for the junk rather than the carrot sticks if it's there. So clean that pantry out! — Cory Couillard
7. Get your kids involved in sports.
This is one of the greatest ways to instill positive body image. Kids gain self-esteem through sports (and other physical activities) because sports teach them to love their bodies for what they can do—rather than how they look. — Jennifer Kelman
8. And begin to incorporate healthy "family time" activities.
Kids are a product of their environment. You're teaching your kids healthy habits when you regularly incorporate fun and healthy family acitivities. Anytime you associate positive emotions with healthy activities, you improve the chances of creating long-term, healthy behaviors. — Alicia Cramer
9. Create a safe-zone for expressing feelings.
It is important for your kids to feel safe communicating with you. Kids often hold in their feelings and wind up thinking there's something wrong with them, which contributes to self-worth challenges. However, frequent and open communication enables kids to learn from negative experiences WITHOUT internalizing them negatively. — Alicia Cramer
10. DON'T be a Negative Nancy.
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 will pick up on your positive vibe and become much happier in the process. — Tatiana Abend
Go beyond teaching your child to say please and thank you. Also teach them eye contact, a proper hand shake, affection and appreciation for the kind and generous things that are said and given to them. If this does not happen, have them return the gift (either to the person or to you for safe keeping) and explain that they aren't yet ready to receive such a gift.
Donate clothes and toys to those in need (not just to your neighbors when it's easy and they have younger children!) and have your kids be a part of that process. Do this regularly as a family and sort through, package and deliver the goods together so the kids really see where their things are going. Do this often and not just around the holidays.
If you only hang around other affluent families who are not raising their kids with intention, you may be surrounding yourself with those who will not help out with what you are trying to accomplish. Be sure family or friends you are spending significant time with have similar values to yours, otherwise you are going to feel defeated after a while.
Yes, handwritten on paper with a pen! Kids these days generally have shorter attention spans, are easily distracted and aren't taught to take careful time and attention to express their appreciation. This simple yet important act can go a long way as a skill to teach expression of feelings and thoughtfulness.
Practice natural consequences from an early age — share some of your own experiences and teach them lessons such as "life is not fair." In addition, don't over-protect them from disappointments. You have to really understand and believe that failing and falling is a part successful childhood development.
8.Talk to their grandparents and explain your intentions to them.
Share with them your desires to have respectful, appreciative, kind and responsible children and the ways in which you are going to achieve that goal. You will need their help in doing this if they are like most grandparents who want to spoil their grandkids! Ask them to spoil them with love, time, affection and attention—not toys, treats and money.
Last but not least, you should tell your kids the legacy of your family's fortune. When I say wealth or fortune, that is all relative. If you come from significant wealth tell the story of how that was earned and created. If you are self-made, tell that story too—just don't forget that "giving your kids everything that you didn't have" is not always a good thing. There is probably a lot that you learned along the way by stumbling to make you the person you are today.