Kids consume a ton of media every single day. And it’s what they’re seeing online, on social media, and tv that can often dictate how they feel about their bodies.
Unfortunately, those images flashing across the screen aren’t always the best depiction of reality for a young person to model themselves after.
So, to help our kids and students learn how to become more body positive, it’s important to intentionally teach them how.
Here’s a few easy ways to teach the kids in our lives how to appreciate themselves, just as they are.
Practice Body Positivity Ourselves
It should come as no surprise that children learn from watching the adults in their lives. And one thing many adults are horrible at, is their body image and self-talk.
We’re so hard on ourselves and it’s common to pick apart our own appearances (out loud). But the kids in the room hear these critical statements as well and may begin to wonder about themselves or become equally critical of their developing bodies
So, first and foremost, watch what you say.
And maybe try to say something good about your body! It will teach body positivity to kids and give you a little confidence boost as well!
Teach Kids About the Whole Package
Complimenting children on their appearance is a great way to promote a confident self-image. But it’s equally important to also praise other qualities, like how good they are at math, their kindness, and other character traits that make your child or student special.
The point is, children should know that they’re more than their bodies.
They’re the whole package!
Listen and Address Concerns to Teach Kids About Body Positivity
If you catch wind of negative body talk, consider addressing the issue head-on by starting a conversation.
Let your child know that you heard the negativity, in a gentle way, and tell them you’re there to talk if they need an ear.
An open line of communication makes it easier for kids to open up about how they’re feeling or if they have questions about their bodies. Asking questions can help keep the conversation going.
Ask questions (in a gentle tone) like the following:
- Why did you say that about yourself?
- Did someone say something to make you feel like this?
- Can I help?
Sometimes just listening can help your child feel better about the negativity. Other times, you may need to direct them toward something positive about themselves.
Body Positive Self Portrait
Have students come up with ways to thank the body for all it does for them.
“I am thankful for my legs for allowing me to walk and dance.”
“I am thankful for my arms for allowing me to hug my family.”
“I am thankful for my hands for helping me paint pictures.”
On a sheet of paper, have them draw and label 3-4 body parts including a reason they are thankful for them. You may want to give them an approved list of body parts that they can write about. Brainstorm together with them before they start.
Create a Collage
But not just any collage. Create a collage that showcases body diversity! Choose images from all ends of the spectrum, all colors, and all genders.
Then, help kids find beauty in each image!
Ask students to find something positive about each image, and then talk about that aspect in greater detail.
The key is to teach beauty in all forms. And exposing children to a variety of images helps normalize diversity and teaches them that there is no perfect body (or way to look).
Right the Wrong To Teach Kids About Body Positivity
If something in the media seems off, it’s time to set the record straight.
It never hurts to point out something that seems wrong so the kids in the room do not normalize the issue.
If it’s an issue of race, gender, or body imagery then point it out and educate children about the fact that what they’re seeing isn’t the real world (or normal).
Watch Your Terminology
Promoting a healthy lifestyle is a great way to teach kids about body positivity. But if the wrong terms are used, children may become confused about the meaning of healthy.
For example, diet or weight may have negative connotations connected to them. Instead, use the word healthy.
Don’t focus on negative words like fat, for example. Instead use positive words like healthy and happy.
If you’ve noticed a trend, you’re right on. Because all of these important tips come down to you changing your language, paying attention, and normalizing diversity. There is no better way to teach kids about body positivity than modeling it yourself.
If you want some ready to go resources to work on this with your child or students, click this link.