Kids of all ages are exposed to ideas about their bodies by peers, parents, the media and other sources. Starting in primary school, kids quickly become aware of body image as they start to compare themselves to others. By the time they reach adolescence, they often become highly concerned about their bodies and the way they look. This is normal because of the dramatic physical changes that are occurring. 

But how do you talk to your child about body image and weight and how do you promote positive thinking?

Tips for how to talk to your child about their body  

  • Encourage open communication 

The older children get, the harder it can be for them to open up. So, from an early age, foster a habit of open communication. Always acknowledge what your child is saying about their body and how they feel about certain changes. Remember, it’s okay for your child to struggle to open up. Give them time but make sure they know that they can always talk to you about anything. 

  • Don’t compare 

Children naturally want to please their parents and be the best at everything. When we compare our children’s bodies to others, we lower their self-esteem as they start to believe that everybody is better than they are. 

  • Create a comfortable and safe environment 

Talking about body image and weight can quickly become an uncomfortable and awkward experience. Therefore, it is important to create a safe space for your child to talk. You can start the conversation by saying things like ‘it is normal to talk to me about your concerns’ or ‘it’s okay to tell me what is bothering you’. This will allow your child to trust you and talk openly about their challenges. 

  • Avoid blaming your child

Never yell, bribe or threaten your child about food, weight or physical activity. Shame and anger are always setups for failure. If you turn these issues into battlegrounds, the results can be very harmful to your child. The worse your child feels about their weight, the more likely they are to develop issues around food and eating.

  • Talk about healthy habits 

Without overdoing it, talk to your child about healthy eating habits and the benefits of physical activity. Remember the old saying of ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away’? Fun tips and sayings can stick with your child and encourage them to make healthy decisions. 

  • Praise their effort

Whenever your child makes a healthy choice, praise their effort and not the results. Instead of talking about how great your child looks, rather say something like, ‘Isn’t it fun to regularly play soccer? – I’m proud of you!’

  • Be careful what you say about others 

Even if you tell your child that they’re perfect just the way they are, what you say about yourself and other people matters too. Avoid making negative comments that can send a negative message to your child and make them wonder what you think of their size.

Build a positive body image one step at a time 

Talking about weight and body image can be a tricky task. You want to be subtle and gentle about the topic while not creating any awkwardness around it. The key is to be open and to use kid-friendly dialogue to talk to your child. You want them to always feel safe and comfortable while discussing anything body-related.