How To ... Help your kids develop a positive body image

2014-02-28 17:34

Parents sometimes forget how important their words, thoughts and feelings are when it comes to helping their children develop a positive body image and healthy eating habits, says Dr Aaron Krasner.

“We make the weather in our homes, a wiser-than-me parent once told me. I think it’s true – especially when it comes to eating behaviours and body image,” says Krasner, director of the adolescent transitional living programme at Silver Hill Hospital in New Canaan, Connecticut.

He notes that 80% of 10-year-old children are afraid of being fat, according to the National Eating Disorders Association.

How can parents help? This is Krasner’s advice:

» Don’t criticise yourself or others about weight or shape in front of youngsters;

» Don’t make negative comments about food, such as “I can’t eat potatoes because they’re carbs.” Instead, teach children the importance of good nutrition and exercise without mentioning weight.

» Praise children for their talents and achievements.

» Explain to youngsters that weight gain and changes in body shape are a natural part of the growing process.

» Talk to children about what they see in the media and remind them of facts such as that only 5% of American women have the so-called “ideal” body type portrayed in ads.

“At the end of the day, parents are the most influential role models in a child’s life, so be mindful of your words and actions. They may be listening when you least expect it,” says Krasner.

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