Five keys to promote an adequate body image in children

The miserable reality

Pepa is 6 years old and she is a healthy, normal , active, clever girl, as she is alone … I know that she has parents who are concerned and involved in doing things well from the point of view of their life habits. However, what Pepa did the other day shrugged my heart and caused my eyes to fill with tears. No joke, but I could not tell you very well if it was tears of sadness or anger . Deep sadness and a rage of milk. The two things at the same time.

It turns out that Pepa, my mother told me recently, took a sheet of paper the other day, wrote a note on it, put it in an envelope and gave it to her mother. So, in hand, directly, in plan post official. On the sheet I said, the following:

“I do not like my body … what can I do?”

Image result for body image insecurities

Imagine the painting. Pepa, is a girl who suffers from what is called school bullying, discriminate against her image because Pepa is a big girl … eat well, healthy, is since she knows how to aim at two extracurricular sports activities … but it is great . I promise, she is like that and the sea of ​​beautiful, healthy and healthy that is. But at school, some angels and angelitas, their peers and classmates or neighbors, tell him anything but nice things. I do not intend to reproduce it here, but you can imagine it; boys and girls of 6 and 7 years in road plan, with a dirtier tongue than the bathrooms of a bus station … I say what I am going to say, because I am not the father of the child, but come on, that touches me I would be the one implicated and Herod would look like a holy man by my side with what I imagine doing to my daughter’s companions (and first to their parents).

The theory

Often, and I think with enough reason, we direct the accusing finger towards “our society” when it crushes us with certain corporal stereotypes that are actually impossible and unattainable for 99.8 percent of mortals . In most cases we blame the media, more often advertising, film and television … and I think there is no lack of reason, but maybe a bit of perspective.

This more or less well that to see the straw (sure not so “straw”) in the eye of others, but it is not so good that not to be able to see the beam in their own. Of course, due to the pressure that our children suffer from the world of advertising and others, who suffer, there is no doubt that what they see at home can help to modulate and nuance that message when not to direct it in one or the other direction .

In this sense, the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics ( Eat Right, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics ), a regular reference in the field of nutrition, through its section aimed at children, sends us an essential message regarding the responsibility that we as parents and caregivers have in the body image that our children can develop of themselves. You can see it in full in this link .

In short, the article shows that in all children, regardless of their figure or weight , distorted perceptions and unhealthy behaviors can appear regarding their image. It is emphasized that the distortion of body image can begin at ages as early as preschool; so that both parents and other adults living with the youngest are going to be the models and references in which they will surely set themselves to establish that self-perception of their own image.

Children and young people with a proper image of themselves tend to feel more confident while being more confident in their abilities to succeed; In theory they are not usually obsessed with the issue of counting calories or weight. Conversely, children with a negative body image tend to experience greater anxiety and isolation, as well as having a higher risk of being overweight as well as those known as eating disorders.

Girl eats watermelon gtres

In order to help parents so that their children have an adequate perception of their image, the aforementioned Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics offers five important keys to take the least possible risks:

1. Review, as parents, the way we refer to our own body and that of others

Especially when it is done in public or in front of the little ones. The way in which you refer to your own image or that of third persons will surely exercise a powerful influence on how your children will later perceive their own body. If for example you refer in a particularly negative way to the appearance of your thighs, to your last and unpleasant diet or to your last training especially strenuous, your children will absorb that information as a “natural” way of expressing themselves and they will identify it in the wrong way issues for which they will develop excessive concern. In these circumstances they are more likely to start worrying about the size of their thighs, come to the conclusion that they have to go on a diet or that they should be tortured with especially strenuous sports practices.

2. Talk about health and minimize the weight

A change of paradigm is essential, a change of focus, in which health is the protagonist … and not the weight. It is crucial to stop showing a special obsession with weight and be all the time making references to the pounds that are weighed … and that if the scale up and the scale down. Instead it is recommended to focus the focus on health, yours and theirs. At least in front of the smallest do not give too much to the value of the weight. It talks about food, balanced meals, adequate, nutritious and tasty … of adequate and inadequate habits.

3. Adapt physical activity to your tastes and possibilities

There are children who seem to be made for sports, others are more sedentary, some are more of team sports, strength, resistance, coordination … and others the opposite. The important thing is that children enjoy while maintaining an active lifestyle. It does not matter especially what they do, but they do something … from karate to basketball, going through dance, badminton, tennis, athletics or hiking … Adapt your activity to their tastes and possibilities, and especially that they have fun.

4. Special attention to peer harassment

I told you at the beginning. The derogatory allusions to the weight made between the pairs can significantly mark the children who are the object of said abuse or verbal aggressions. We as adults must show intransigence to the smallest sample of this type of behavior and preventively talk about it with them. Of course, at the slightest suspicion that your child is suffering some type of abuse in this regard, my recommendation is that you speak directly with the people in charge of the school … and without losing a second

5. Banish the myth of that which is called “perfect body”

Even if it seems that you are not old enough to address these issues, I think that at the same moment that you put them in front of a television or put a videogame in your hands it is time to talk with them about these issues, adapting the message to their possibilities of understanding and letting them express themselves in order to talk about false models and false perfections.

I recognize that I have a special sensitivity with these issues. On the one hand in my profession there are many associations with these issues (too many), I have two very young daughters (although less and less) and at the same time the nearby circumstances have beaten us, here in Zaragoza, with a special cruelty just as you I counted a few weeks ago about the sad outcome of two cases of anorexia.

Please, with these issues be very careful, and of course zero tolerance.