How to Discuss Body Image with Children
Bringing up the dreaded “f-word” of “fat” with your child is one of the most difficult conversations you’ll ever have. Get the resources you need to have a productive conversation about your weight.
Weight is a serious health and social concern. 25 percent of Latino children in the United States are clinically obese, according to the Office of Minority Health at the Department of Health and Human Services. Obesity and eating problems among Latinos have increased as a result of the rising incidence of obesity. Researchers revealed that Latino fifth-graders were less pleased about their bodies than their white peers. Furthermore, compared to the 24% of white students, nearly half of Latino students were already dieting.
As a result, experts believe that parents will be the ones who positively mold their children’s body image, rather than pediatricians, teachers, or coaches. We have to teach kids how to do things like tie their shoes and brush their teeth since they don’t do it on their own. You may tackle the most challenging tasks in little increments, on a regular basis.
Kids need to know that there are people who are naturally bigger or rounder, and that’s fine.
Despite the dangers of obesity, there is a wide range of human body types. Just as some skinny people may not be fit, there may be some obese persons who are.
Don’t Overburden the Scales.
If your parents talk to you about food with an emphasis on your weight or size, like “Don’t eat that, because you’ll get fat!”—you’re more likely to go on severe diets or display eating-disordered behavior like fasting, binge eating, or using laxatives. However, teens with parents who only discussed the nutritional value of food and did not broach the subject of weight were less likely to experience eating disorders. The mood, psychological health, and disordered eating disorders of overweight children were less common in those whose parents came off as judgmental when discussing food with them.
Of course, the scale must be faced on occasion. During annual exams, pediatricians generally tell children where they fall on growth and weight charts. However, you don’t have to have a negative or embarrassing conversation about your weight. In fact, make the most of these opportunities to reinforce to your children that health is more than just a number on a scale. We shouldn’t avoid discussing weight. Talk to your pediatrician if you’re concerned about the issue of your child’s weight and don’t want to address it in front of him.
Say Goodbye to Self-Loathing
In spite of what you say about yourself and others, such as celebrities, to your children, it can have a significant impact on their perceptions of themselves and the world around them. Comments like “I’m so obese in these clothes,” or “Did you see how fat that lady is?” should be avoided at all costs. This can give your children the impression that you don’t like them because of their size, which is a bad example to set.
However, even pleasant comments about one’s own body can be harmful. If it reaches the wrong person or group of people. What’s the best way to react to someone’s large stature? It’s a neutral color. The best way to deal with your youngster pointing out that someone has a large stomach or is overweight is to point out something else about the person’s physical appearance.
That being said, there is always the possibility that someone like Abuela will chime in on the subject of weight. Children who are called fat by a family member, friend, or teacher are more likely to be obese 10 years later than those who are not, according to UCLA research. In other words, set clear boundaries with family members: no more joking about weight, even if it comes from the heart. The idea is to refrain from saying something like, “You’re wrong.” Emphasize the dangers of weight discussion to children growing up in today’s society.
Demonstrate Compassion for Others
According to a study published in the journal Obesity Research, youngsters have already internalized the idea that overweight people are bad or inferior by the fifth or sixth grade. When it comes to children’s movies and stories, such as The Little Mermaid, villains are generally overweight. Your child will benefit from hearing you explain why it’s improper to make fun of a character based just on her appearance. Ask questions like, ‘Does a person’s bodily weight have any bearing on their character?’ How did the character feel about being teased about her weight? To aid someone who was being bullied because of their weight, how could you intervene?
As a means to combat the stigma associated with obesity, teach empathy. Treating others with respect should be a no-brainer in your household.