Children, whether or not they study in an international school in Manila, can already form an image and opinion of their bodies. In fact, as early as kindergarten, they begin to show signs of satisfaction or dissatisfaction towards their appearance. Surprisingly, a few lean towards the latter and develop an unhealthy or negative body image.
There are a lot of things in this world that can influence how children see themselves. Unfortunately, there’s no way to completely shield them from all these things. There are, however, several ways to make them critical to these negative images and allow them to develop a positive body image.
Let’s enumerate them below!
Exposure to unrealistic body ideals and stereotypes is one of the biggest contributing factors to the development of an unhealthy body image. Thankfully, it’s also something that can be controlled. You can do so by looking for sources of media that portray healthy body sizes and don’t promote stereotypical characters.
Showing them to your kids should help them have an appreciation for bodies in all shapes and sizes, helping them love themselves as they are.
Lessening their exposure to body stereotypes is a great start. Unfortunately, it’s near impossible to completely eradicate media from their lives. Sooner than later, they’re going to be exposed to absurd body ideals that may make them question their physical appearance. When this happens, what you can do is to call them out and talk to them about these types of portrayal.
Remind them that portraits of men and women in magazines or billboards are altered and that the images put out by the media are made solely to sell products and services.
As you teach your kids the importance of having a healthy diet and exercise, it is important to highlight health and not weight. Stop the obsession with numbers shown on a scale and tape measure because fixating on these things isn’t the goal of nutrition and fitness.
They should know that enjoying healthy meals and physical activities is a necessary part of taking care of their bodies. These things give them the energy to do their daily activities. In the end, they benefit from these not because they make them slimmer or prettier but because they allow them to live their best lives.
Whenever you speak of others or yourself, make sure not to aim your words at a person’s physical size or appearance. Instead, notice their behavior, actions, talents, traits, and intelligence. Praise them on these aspects to show your kids that – cliché as it may be – it is what’s on the inside that counts.
Do the same to your children. Compliment them on what they do instead of how they look. Once they understand and internalize this attitude, they will grow up to be individuals who have a healthy relationship with their outside appearances.
Whether or not your children study in an international school in Manila, it is of great importance that they grow up with a positive body image. Teaching this is not difficult. All you have to do is follow the four ways listed above and you’d be able to allow your kids to appreciate themselves and the people around them for who they are and not for what they look like!