This article is part of a series by the J.B. Watkins PTA Digital Safety Committee.
By Melody Bergman
During New Year’s there are so many images and voices in the media chattering about diets and weight loss–and we need to remember that these messages reach our children too. As parents, we can be a positive influence and strive to make our voices rise above the media storm.
Here are 5 tips for teaching kids about healthy body image:
1) Be an example. Your kids hear you. If you are critical about your own body, they will notice. Be kind to yourself. Compliment yourself. Talk about your strengths and be positive about your imperfections.
2) Limit exposure. Children spend on average 7.5 hours a day on a screen. The majority of this time is spent on television, video games, and social media (Media, Body Image, and Eating Disorders, n.d.). Kids are being influenced by social media, TV characters, advertisements, celebrities, and friends. Monitor their media usage and make sure an excessive amount of time is not being spent objectifying themselves or their peers.
3) Compliment your kids often. Promote their self worth by encouraging the great things they do as opposed to how they look. Thank them for their helpful, meaningful behaviors (doing dishes, giving hugs, sharing a talent). Help them understand that body types can vary between individuals and that they are beautiful the way they are.
4) Help them love the body they have. Remind your kids of all the amazing things their bodies can do: run, swim, sleep, see, hear, speak, sing, dream, hold hands, skip, laugh, etc. Help your child understand that the human body is a miracle and that it has value and beauty that transcends society’s cheap standards.
5) Teach media literacy. When you see a photoshopped image, you may realize that it’s not real. But does your child know the difference? Teach your kids about how the media creates illusions to manipulate them. Give them the “Power to See.”
As parents, we can make a difference. We can help our kids understand who they are and teach them to feel confident about themselves.
(This is an excerpt from a post originally featured on Educate and Empower Kids.)
Melody Harrison Bergman is a mother and step-mom of three awesome boys, founder of Media Savvy Mamas, and head of the PTA Digital Safety Committee at J.B. Watkins Elementary.