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Raising your children to have a positive body image

submitted by Dana Snook, RDN, LDN, CIC, mkplusnewtown.com

Raising children with a positive relationship with their bodies in our current society is no easy task.

The diet industry is a $60 billion industry and our children are not immune to these negative messages.

We know from research that children by the age of six-years-old have a desire for thinness in females and muscularity in males.

In addition, an increase in weight concern by ages five- to seven-years-old predicts an increase in dietary restraints by nine-years-old.

While you cannot shelter them from all these messages in our culture there are ways as a parent you can support them in your house.

Be body positive in your house. If you are trying to diet and change your body this is sending a message to your child that the size and shape of your body does matter.

Children of parents that diet are more likely to diet themselves. Nine-year-old girls were more likely to express negative attitudes about people in larger sized bodies when they perceived their mother to be concerned about her own and her child’s weight.

Listen around, do you notice there is constantly body talk around your children.

Sometimes adults will compliment each other on their weight loss or talk negatively about someone’s body.

This type of exposure will increase the likelihood your child can attach the importance of what their body looks like.

Do not collude with body image issues by agreeing with them to change their bodies.

What your child will hear is, “I feel uncomfortable in my body and since Sally told me to exercise more or eat less “junk,” there really must be something wrong with my body.”

It validates their concerns as true. You never want your children to think there is anything wrong with their body.

A child that specifically hears their body is wrong feels flawed in every way – not smart, not physically capable, and not worthy.