How can you protect your child from having a poor body image?


It’s lovely to put away all the winter wear and get into our light and colourful summer clothing. However, we do find that we become more aware of our bodies because, of course, summer clothes just don’t cover us the way our other season wear does. What do we do when our children are also obsessing about their looks? A question from a concerned Dad caused me to send this reply.

How Can You Protect Your Child From Having a Poor Body Image?

Does this make me look fat?  It’s a question, which is often posed as a joke. The wife asks her husband and he believes there is no right answer.

The question becomes even more prevalent in the summer when our clothing covers fewer of what we determine are the flaws in our bodies.

I received the following question from one of my readers. “My wife has had a life-long battle with her weight and is now obsessing about our eight-year-old daughter’s. How can I protect my child from developing a poor body image?” I sent the following response.

It’s a tough question. There is much discussion today about society’s obsession with unhealthy thinness and there is often a suggestion that the clothing advertisers should use models who look like actual people. We want to see ourselves in this clothing. Or do we?

Let’s face it, we still want to be slim whether we admit it or not. And it’s unfortunate that we have put so much emphasis on thinness for women and increasingly today for young girls. At eight years of age a child is still growing and developing. The focus for her body is to encourage her to eat nutritious meals and be physically active.

Her mother is trying to help her avoid whatever discomfort she felt growing up but being obsessive about it is probably not helping.

I would start by visiting the family doctor who can reassure your wife that your daughter is just fine. You might also want to visit with a qualified nutritionist to help you look at your daughter’s diet to determine if there is any indication that she may develop a weight problem. Remind your wife that you fell in love with her, not with her looks.

When you compliment your wife or daughter don’t focus on their size. Instead notice the pretty new sweater, the colour of their outfit or their cool shoes. In this way you are giving both of them a male perspective that is not all about physical looks.

If your daughter is not already physically active, this is a good time to start. Help her find some activities she will enjoy such as swimming or soccer. By participating she will learn how to use her body and feel good about herself.

If your wife can’t get past her obsession, consider counselling. Often it’s a good idea to suggest going to a counsellor together to help with your communication about your daughter’s size and let the counsellor determine whether your wife needs some individual help.

 Sarah is shy, Jared is bossy and Pat is Easy-Going.

What do we need to know about different temperaments? Every child is unique and different.  My mini guide e-book, Vive la Différence: Raising Children with Different Temperaments addresses some of the temperaments we see in our kids.I looked at my two children who are as different as night and day. Then I consider my siblings and we are a textbook example of different.But, now I have three grandchildren, all the same age and the differences from their births has been striking.The result is the e-parenting mini guide, Vive la Différence: Raising Children with Different Temperaments. The guide is available on my website.

How Can I Bring Kathy to My Community?

I offer keynotes and workshops,  have written books and have ongoing newspaper columns, books, blogs and newsletters.

And, no matter what the actual topic, they all share a basic value that I call:

P.U.R.E. Parenting.

P — is a parenting plan

U — is unconditional love

R — is respect for your child as he is right now

E — is encouragement

I look forward to working with you for your professional development, workplace wellness or parenting education event.



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