(As discussed in interview with Saleema Noon on VTV’s Vancouver Breakfast Television Show on April 27, 1999)
Today, children are getting caught up in an image obsession at younger ages, and for the first time, boys are almost as vulnerable to it as girls are. For this reason, it is increasingly important that parents instill healthy, positive views about body and beauty to their children.
1. Be a good role model.
Parents who dwell on their own appearance and obsess about dieting send a strong message to their children that thin is beautiful. Children must understand that adults don’t need the calories that children need for growing healthy, and that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes.
2. Try not to make comments about your child’s body that can be unintentionally hurtful. (i.e. “you’re a big kid” )
A statement like this will have a lasting impact for a child with insecurities.
If other people in your child’s life make such comments, talk about it with this person.
3. Be careful not to dismiss your child’s comments about his or her body.
If your child says “I’m too fat” don’t just say “You’re fine the way you are”. Address your child’s concerns and empathize while putting their worries into perspective.
4. Discuss the distorted image of body and beauty portrayed by the media.
Explain that the images we see in magazines aren’t a realistic portrayal of what people look like in real life and that the models in ads may be unhealthily thin.
Change the question from “What’s wrong with my body?” to “What’s wrong with this picture?”.
5. Assure your child that he or she is loved and valued for the person they are—not for their appearance—and that beauty comes from the inside.
Emphasize their talents, accomplishments and special qualities.