Effects of Body Image on Children

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September 4, 2013 by thehealthyheartcenter

Body image is the image we have of our own bodies and what that means to us. Individuals of all shapes and sizes can develop a negative body image no matter how inaccurate it can be.

The way we think about our body affects the way we treat our body in our everyday life. Negative body image can develop at ages as young as preschool children. Not only can it have consequences such as depression and low self-esteem but it can affect the way your children treat their bodies. In extreme cases it can lead to an eating disorder.

Here are a few tips to help promote a positive body image in your children:

Help Yourself First
Parents are one of the biggest influences children have in their lives especially when they are young. If you have a negative body image and make comments about wanting to lose weight and how you don’t look good in certain clothes because of your body your children will begin to look and question themselves.

Focus on Health
With childhood obesity rates rising most people are overly concerned about weight instead of overall health. Yes, body weight is a good indicator of health but it’s not the only one. All children develop differently and just because a child may be thin, it does not mean they aren’t unhealthy.

Diets and gym work-outs aren’t the best solutions for young kids. Try encouraging them to play sports or activities outside. Not all children may be interested in the same kinds of exercise so try a variety of options. Counting calories may cause your children to be too obsessed and restrictive. Instead, help them to learn healthier snacks and meals to eat.

Stay away from body image comments
Even when you compliment them and constantly tell them they are beautiful or look good they will get the idea that appearance may be more important than it is. This could actually work in the opposite effect and make your children more conscious of their looks. You don’t need to tell them if they need or don’t need to lose weight but instead educate them about good health. Help them focus more on their skills and positive personality traits.

If your child gets bullied for their weight, you can talk to them about why other children may bully (low self-esteem, etc). And contact your child’s school about the issue.

If you think your child may have body image issues affecting their quality of life and should be addressed, see a physician, counselor or psychologist.

sources: eatright.org, webmd.com

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Authors

Dr. Wali Gauvin

Kendra Fink RD CPT

Jessica Griffin: Intern

Julianna Yi: Intern

Marielle Mangano: Intern

Jackie Page: Intern

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