Help Your Child Develop a Positive Body Image

It is important that parents and caregivers help children build a healthy body image, and taking steps early on can help prevent self-esteem issues that may later lead to an eating disorder or other health complications.

Keep the focus on health not weight

  • Make sure your child understands that weight gain is a normal part of development, especially during puberty.
  • Avoid negative statements about food, weight, body size, and shape.
  • Allow your child to make decisions about food, while making sure that plenty of healthy and nutritious meals and snacks are available.

Help your child realize there is no such thing as a perfect body — the media image is not real

  • Compliment your child on his or her efforts, talents, accomplishments, and personal values.
  • Monitor television viewing and discuss the media images your child sees.
  • Keep the communication lines with your child open.

Consider your own body image issues- are they affecting your child?

  • The way you talk about your own body can influence children’s thoughts about their own bodies.
  • Avoid judging other family members, strangers, etc.

Encourage physical activities that work for your child

  • Don’t push physical activities on your child that they feel uncomfortable with or physically cannot manage, rather find physical activities that work well for them that they enjoy.
  • Find activities to do together — yoga class, bike ride, kickboxing, swimming, etc.

What is Body Image?

Body image is the feelings or beliefs a person has about his or her appearance. If a child feels negative about the way he or she looks, he or she may develop a negative body image. Having a negative body image can lead to negative self-esteem, which, in some cases, may lead to disordered eating that can put a child’s health in danger.