Body image issues start so early.
As a parent, you can do far more to counteract the media’s influence than you realize.
These three simple steps can reassure and support your child in developing body positivity as they grow, before any issues ever start.
1. Watch your words (not just the ones about your child).
You obviously don’t want to call your daughter fat or tell your son to get on a diet. If you’re avoiding those kinds of phrases, you’re on the right track.
But what about the words you say that have nothing to do with your children?
My mom always worried about her weight. She asked, “Am I as big as that woman? Am I as fat as her?” I learned to look at bodies in terms of comparison, fear, and inadequacy. By the time I hit high school, I had an eating disorder.
What do you say about bodies, weight, and food? More importantly, what do you believe? Your beliefs and words create programming in your family.
What to do: Talk about your own body with love and appreciation. Talk about food as a gift and a resource that you manage wisely. Honor your body by maintaining and exercising it.
2. Look at your family history (I’m not talking genetics).
Weight is a big factor in body image.
If excess weight does become an issue, your child may be running a generational pattern. If several of your family members deal with emotional issues regarding weight, your child may be slipping into a rut of belief that says, “We’re fat people.”
What to do: Your own inner healing. If your child is exhibiting extreme behavior that requires medical attention, intervene. But if your child has simply expressed displeasure about weight, you have more power to shift their experience by doing your own emotional healing than addressing the issue head-on.
3. Support your child’s food experience (in a unique way).
Every child moves through the world in a unique way. Some are social and loud, while others are more reserved and methodical. I explain all 4 Types of children in depth in my book, The Child Whisperer. Each Type of child has a unique experience that’s most supportive for them.
The Fun-loving Type 1 Child
Keeping food fun is important in this child’s world. Don’t take health too seriously with them! Your child may have ideas about what to eat that aren’t the best choices—don’t shut all of them down. Just help her make a party out of healthy food.
The Sensitive Type 2 Child
Comfort is key to this child—and they may turn to food to get it. Regularly invite your child to talk about how they feel, both physically and emotionally. Support your child in receiving comfort from other places, rather than just food (baked goods in particular). Invite your child to eat healthy foods, but don’t ever push.
The Determined Type 3 Child
These children can get intense about their food experience, whether healthy or unhealthy. Food imbalances are just secondary issues. Don’t say things that shut down your child in other areas of their life so they feel they have to make up for it with food.
The More Serious Type 4 Child
These children are sometimes labeled as picky. They are not picky—they are particular, with a narrower palate. Don’t criticize or make light of this. Don’t draw attention to what your child eats. If you do need to talk about variety, set a time so your child can prepare, and then talk privately—not at the dinner table.
You can do this.
I fully recovered from my eating disorder and years of negative body image. Your child can have a much better experience with your support.
Consider your own words and beliefs. Look at your family history. Support your child’s Energy Type (and yours).
Helping your child love their body can be healing for you both.