Supporting Positive Body Image in Kids

Find out about common mental health concerns related to body image and how to support your child in developing a positive body image.

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Boy looking in a mirror at his reflection
Ashley Kroon Van Diest

Body Positivity for Kids

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Binge Eating Disorder: Not Just Overeating

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Awareness Key to Helping Kids With Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are different from other mental health conditions in some key ways. Read on to see which kids are most at risk and how being aware could save a life.

With all of the different types of media available today, it’s nearly impossible to not misinterpret messages on how our society views the “perfect” body. As adults, many of us can identify what’s realistic and what’s not for the typical human, but our children don’t always have that same understanding. So whether it’s boys thinking they need to have big muscles or girls thinking they need to be skinny, it’s our job as adults to teach children that we are all beautiful and unique in our own way, regardless of our shape or size. Here are some ways you can promote those body positive thoughts:

  1. Ask your child what they like most about themselves, and then you do the same. Focus on non-physical stuff as much as possible, like being kind, smart, or maybe a great artist! We want to emphasize that our strengths are not determined by the way we look.
  2. Remove judgments around food. In other words, don’t label foods as “good” or “bad." Instead you may simply want to explore different foods your child likes. Caregivers can still set boundaries, like limiting fast food to a couple times a week, but we’re not labeling that food as “bad." You simply want to show that we need a variety of foods to be healthy.
  3. Attempt to change body talk about others. If you hear your child say something negative about someone else’s body, remind them that our bodies do not define who we are, and encourage them to identify something positive about that person.
  4. Model healthy body image Remember, they follow what they see. As adults, we also need to refrain from negative body talk. That can be challenging at times because we’re influenced by all of the messages and images in the media too. However, lead by example. Shift the mind away from the focus on the physical characteristics, and point out all the qualities that make us the beautiful humans we are.

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