How I’m Raising My Children to Be Body Positive

plus-size mum and daughter doing yoga together

For as long as I can remember, way back to when I was in primary school, I have had issues with low self-esteem, especially when it comes to body image. I used to run a lot for the school, competing in regional competitions, so my body needed fuel from food but I distinctly remember throwing away most of my lunch and lying to my mum about it. Looking back I can see how skinny I was, but at the time I just wanted to be perfect, like the people I saw on TV and in the magazines I would buy with my pocket money. When I became a mum, my issues didn’t go away, in fact, they worsened due to the change in my body post-birth, but I did vow to make sure that my children didn’t grow up feeling the same insecurities that I did.

These are some of the ways I am trying to encourage body positivity in my children.

Being Open and Honest

As I mentioned, I have low self-esteem and body issues myself. I don’t want to lie to my children and pretend I don’t but I also don’t talk negatively in front of them about myself, and I talk about how I have struggled in the past due to issues when I was a child, to prompt healthy, open conversations about our bodies, and how they might feel about their own self-image.

Not Covering Up

I don’t constantly walk around naked, but we are a household who don’t hide away and the children are encouraged to feel free in their own skin at home too. It can be hugely damaging to be given the impression that being naked in your own home is not allowed, that your body is something to hide away. I try and combat this, as well as answer any questions the children might have if they see me without my clothes on.

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Sharing Positive Role Models

I may not be body confident as much as I would like, but I do have access to the internet and other positive role models for the children to learn about. These people, of varying shapes and sizes, speak their truth openly and candidly, giving power to the younger generation that I missed out on as a child.

Cooking Together

It is paramount to foster a positive relationship with food from a young age. I grew up thinking bread was the enemy and would throw everything but the filling away from my sandwiches at school. I make an effort to cook meals from scratch with the children as much as I can, encouraging them to try new foods, and reiterating that no food is a ‘bad’ food and that everything is ok in moderation. I also don’t force the children to eat when they don’t feel hungry, or make them clear their plates before they can leave the table, as I find this a hugely damaging mindset.

Celebrate Their Minds

As well as telling them how lovely they look, I make sure to compliment their minds and personalities as well as their looks. Rather than growing up thinking that being slim or toned is the goal, I want them to feel that their achievements in life weigh up to more than the number on the scales or the label in their clothes.

It can be such a minefield being a parent when you have issues from your childhood yourself, but I think the key is to face your own past head-on and to try and work with your experiences to create a better mindset for your own children when it comes to food, nutrition, exercise and body image.

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