You see the word "fit" up there - as we have seen over these past months, fit can mean a whole host of things. Fit is being healthy mentally and physically. A fit person can LOOK totally different from another just-as-fit person. But what happens when your daughter or son starts to think they way his or her body isn't okay.
I'm talking about body image. You may think it is something to tackle when they are in their tweens, maybe during those middle school years...but it starts waaaay earlier, which means we need to start building up that self-esteem and good body image feelings now.
Studies have shown that kids as young as five years old can have bad thoughts about their bodies -- this is when their little minds start to really notice and compare how their bodies or hair texture or eyes are different than their friends or what they see on TV or in movies. Even those feel-good cartoon movies can start to perpetuate thoughts on what an "ideal" body looks like.
For this Friday Fit Club, look over these ideas on how to start to build your child's confident view of his or her body.
-- Be a good role model. Love your body. Don't talk about being on a diet, don't make negative comments about your body or others that you see. Our kiddos hang on every word we say, even if they are involved in the conversation (think about all of the times you were on the phone with your sister or girlfriend talking about the four pounds you gained over the holidays or what your cousin Bee wore to that wedding).
-- Point out how beautiful all different body types can be and why they are beautiful. Ask your kiddos what they think is pretty and why. When you make someone smile or laugh, that is pretty. Strength is pretty. Knowing how to spell a word or how to solve a puzzle is pretty.
-- Help her solidify her inner judgment of her own beauty. Pay attention to when she is asking about what is pretty or cute. When your child asks questions like ‘Do I look pretty in this dress?" or "Does my hair look cute?," remember she will be asking these not only of you, but of others in years to come, seeking validation of her beauty. Teach her to validate herself and trust her own feelings of her beauty. Instead of saying, "Yes, you look great!," try responding, "Oh, you are wearing a dress today! How do you feel in it?" As she says, "I feel so pretty!," she is building those inner muscles to determine for herself what is pretty or beautiful.
-- When you are watching a movie or TV show that you can see is emphasizing the "ideal" beauty myth, ask questions about who decides what or who is pretty, as well as how our actions to ourselves and others can affect if we are pretty or not.
-- Encourage healthy habits like being active and eating good foods not because they make us "beautiful," but they make us feel good and are good for us. Don't label foods good or bad; instead, talk about how some foods are better for us than others. A cookie isn't bad, it just doesn't have the same important vitamins or nutrients that fruits or vegetable have.
How do you answer the question, "Do I look pretty, mom?" when your child asks? Share your thoughts and tips on building good self-esteem!