We have all seen the pressure put on girls to have a “perfect” body. And what is perfect really? It’s subjective. This pressure comes from news, social media, magazines, TV shows and it’s a constant projection to our kids and teens. Although most of the attention that is brought up in the media is questioning the damage done to young girls, it’s naive to think that this same media isn’t affecting our boys, too.
A while back I was coming down the stairs and heard two of my sons, (who were 5 and 7 at the time) lifting weights and asking each other if they can see each other’s six packs. This was every bit as shocking as having my niece ask me if her butt looked big in her skirt… at age 6.
You can’t shield kids from all pictures of women or men in magazines or on TV that paint an unrealistic picture of what bodies “should” look like. But what you can do is be conscious of how we talk about body types, show them we love ourselves and open up the conversation about realistic body images.
Good body image starts at home. You can have as many conversations as you want about body image with your kids, but they are just words unless you set a good example yourself. Here are some tips:
- Don’t criticize your body (or other people’s bodies) in front of your child or where they could possibly hear (and they always hear).
- Focus on your own health or fitness if you need to discuss your own nutrition or weight at all.
- Except in the rarest of medically-supervised situations, kids should not diet. They should learn about healthy choices and portion sizes and staying active.
- Never shame a child about their food or their bodies. Nobody learns anything useful through shame.
Watch this video to get some tips on tackling boy’s body image:
What tips do you have to add?