Why a Healthy Body Image is important for your Preschooler?
HAPPY BODY! HAPPY MIND!
In the words of TV Talk Show Host & Fashionista, Ellen DeGeneres –
“To me, beauty is about being comfortable in your own skin. It’s about knowing and accepting who you are”.
As we are swamped with both images of emaciated models and ads about escalating obesity, parents need to overcome the fracture of these images with a healthy body image for their child.
Ellen’s words ring in our hearts by the time preschool comes around; one of the most important parental responsibilities is to nurture a healthy body image in your child. Due to social modelling of caregivers and parents, both groups participate in shaping how children think and feel about their bodies. The manner in which a child interprets their bodies affects aspects of their being such as their personality, confidence, posture and even their self-esteem.
WHAT IS BODY IMAGE?
To put it simply, “Body Image” is how one thinks and feels about their body. It includes inferences on phenotypical characteristics such as height, weight, shape and other physical traits that makes you uniquely You! It is important for parents to share with their children about their uniqueness in developing a healthy image – for example, it is not about fat Vs thin but more about healthy vs unhealthy.
WHY IS A HEALTHY BODY IMAGE SO IMPORTANT?
When a child has a positive body image, she feels proud and accepts her physical appearance. Isn’t that a great feeling to know that our children are comfortableand confident in their bodies?
Our child’s body image is linked to their self-esteem. For example, a negative body image may lead to a low self-esteem whilst, a positive feeling about our body can enhance our self-esteem. One of the keys of parenthood is to teach our children how to independently overcome the challenges in their lives. Having a good self-esteem supports our child to better navigate the thresholds of life.
Conversely, facing criticism and teasing impairs our little one’s emotional state. Therefore, it is important to prepare our children on how to deal with negative comments that may hurt the child even as they grow into adulthood. Parents can speak to their child about the hurtful words from the perpetrator and how their child interprets those words, following which parents can imbue values of real importance that reflect their reality. For example, if a child is being called “fat” or “ugly”, parents can ask their child what they understand by those words, and explain to them that – their actions and choices they make define their success, not a number on the scale; and real beauty comes from within and that they will be loved no matter how they look. Having a healthy support system from family and friends nurture the child to be better able to manage their emotions.
Trust and communication is essential in any relationship; employer-employee, husband-wife, and most certainly parent-child. When a child feels that he can trust his parent to explore his pain, more often than not the child will be open about what is bothering him. However, there may be times when the child feels that he is unable to communicate his feelings with his parents. As a result, he may bottle up and explode/implode at a later time. Therefore, it is essential to keep a look out for unusual signs or symptoms of your child. And, if you feel that you are unable to handle the situation by yourself (it is completely normal not to have all the answers to your child’s problems), seek to consult a professional.
Having a positive body image doesn’t come naturally, it has to be socially reinforced by the environment (and, by you parents). As your child goes through their day in school, they will face feedback from teachers and friends, and most times you have to let them handle the conflict that they will face. So, let’s look at some ways that you can help to build your child’s positive image so that they will be able to manage the negativity that they will face.
Here are 3 ways to help your preschooler have a positive body image
Be An Example Yourself – Have a positive attitude towards your own body. Mothers, teach your daughters to be proud of their own body. Instead of obsessing over their body stats, teach them to channel their energy into developing a purposeful life. Explain to them the fingerprint theory. All of us have unique fingerprints, which cannot be copied. Therefore, we are made truly unique in our own way since we were never meant to be like someone else. It is only when our children fall in love with the way they look will they want to be better versions of themselves.
Have fun working out – Spend time on a physical activity with them. Dancing, cycling and running are all good exercises that can be done for FREE. As an example, you could have a weekly sports night or a weekend jog with the family, or just even a daily walk in the park. What about singing and dancing to your children’s favourite pop song? Even if your children are embarrassed, they certainly will be impressed. There are also charity runs that you can participate in as a family that raises awareness for social issues. As a principle, you should implement a No-Handphone Policy during your fun activities as you want your children to fully participate and enjoy the moments.
Choose Healthy Food – At all possible times, prepare your child’s meals at home. Depending on your dietary restrictions, provide her a balanced meal rich in all nutrients including carbohydrates, protein, vitamins and minerals. Encourage your children to opt for fresh fruits instead of sugary desserts. Eat crunchy vegetables such as broccoli, green beans, and leafy greens that give you all the good nutrients. Have a balanced breakfast – most parents miss this as a result of rushing their children to school, and scooting off to work. But, having a good breakfast is absolutely crucial to kickstart metabolism and improve cognitive functioning. When you children enjoy the healthy food they eat, they’ll almost certainly make better food choices for the rest of the day.
While you do your best as a parent to promote a positive body image among your children as they get ready to start preschool, always furnish your decisions with love. When your children know that you love and support them encourage them to make better choices. They will naturally develop a healthy body image and it will be a reflection of how they are able to deal with the challenges of the world.