Today, girls face an array of unprecedented pressures. They are expected to pursue successful careers, but they’re also expected to be beautiful — more so than ever before. These pressures are enhanced by the rise of social media and certain programs on TV. While we can’t keep our kids away from their phones, computers and the TV, we can help them to develop good self-esteem and a positive body image.
Toddlers and young kids
As your toddler grows, she can build good feelings about her body. Often it shows. She may look and feel proud when she tells you how tall she’s grown. Or she will smile at herself in the mirror as she tries on her favourite outfit. But as she becomes older, she may start to become aware of other kids’ bodies and may start to compare herself to others.
Pre-teens and teenagers
Your child’s body will change as she starts getting ready to go through puberty. And she will start feeling different about her body too. She may feel excited to start looking like an older kid, or she may feel shy about her changing body. This is also the time when your child will feel most aware of her own body and compare herself to other girls.
Developing a positive body image
It’s important to help your daughter develop a healthy body image from an early age. As soon as she reaches puberty, she may already have some negative feelings about her body. So, let’s explore some of the best ways you can help her to feel confident from an early age:
- Teach your daughter to take good care of her body through healthy habits.
- Try not to say negative things about your own body in front of your daughter.
- Never make negative remarks about other’s bodies or the way they dress.
- Talk to your daughter openly about her fears and concerns about her changing body. You want to create a safe space for her to talk about her worries.
- Compliment your child about her achievements and not on the way she looks.
- Manage internet and social media time. Connecting with friends and family can be a positive experience, but spending hours on social media is not.
- Encourage exercise. Physical activity is great for physical and mental health and can also reduce stress and anxiety.
- Build resilience. Unfortunately, there will be times when your daughter feels negatively about her body. Teach her that this is normal but can be overcome by focusing on the positives and making healthy changes.
Negative body image is associated with several factors, including peer pressure, media images and family influences. Luckily, these can all be overcome or even avoided if you help your daughter develop a positive body image from an early age.