Encouraging a Healthy Body Image

April 27, 2017
Encouraging a Healthy Body Image


Talking to children about body image can be very tricky. 

Here are some tips to encourage a positive body image

  1. Use Different Vocabulary
  • Research shows that talking about bodies as being different and unique can help children to embrace different body types.  Instead of labeling someone as “fat” or “thin,” try and refer to all bodies as coming in different shapes and sizes.
  1. Avoid Connecting Health with a Particular Body Type
  • Lots of factors decide whether someone is “healthy,” not only their body size.  Try and avoid labeling someone as being “unhealthy” based solely on their appearance.  This can confuse children about overall health and fitness goals that may not ultimately change their appearance.
  1. Model Good Behaviors at Home
  • We all have moments where we criticize the way we look.  Try to avoid doing this in front of children, especially out of context.  What you understand to be a joke or exaggeration, may lead to misunderstanding on their part.  Try and project a love and acceptance of your own body whenever possible, or talk about what you are working on in a positive light.
  1. Make it a Team Effort
  • If your child does require a special diet or a major change in diet or lifestyle, try to partner with them to make it a success.  Avoid eating foods or engaging in behaviors that are off limits, in front of your children.  Instead, try eating the same things at mealtime and performing the same activities.  Your support and encouragement can make all the difference to your child’s success.
  1. Praise How Well Our Bodies Work
  • We rarely talk about our bodies in a positive light, but there are lots of things our bodies do well every single day.  Talk about how strong your child’s body is, how well it moves or works, how hard it works to pump blood, grow muscle and learn new things.  Embrace the things our body can do – even when there are challenges.  Learning to love your body happens over a lifetime.


photo courtesy of GETTY IMAGES