I love watching my girls on the beach. I love the inhibition that comes with the lack of awareness of how they look. Instead, their body focus is on movement; playing, splashing, running, cartwheeling, creating. Isn’t that a beautiful thing?
As they grow up, I want to raise my girls to love, appreciate and care for their strong and healthy bodies. But knowing how to do this can be challenging, especially in today’s world, which is why I think this is such an important topic.
Dr. Lyndsay Elliott is a local Orange County mom of two and is a clinical psychologist with a speciality in eating disorders and body image issues. She wrote a phenomenal article on how to talk to your kids about weight to promote healthy eating attitudes and positive body image. Here is what she wrote…
How to Talk to Your Kids About Weight
by Dr. Lyndsay Elliott
Talking to your kids about weight can be scary! Some of us might worry that we’ll say the “wrong” thing and it will have a negative impact on our kids’ sense of self and body confidence.
It can be so overwhelming that we might even avoid the topic altogether.
There are simple, fact-based ways to discuss food, health, and weight with our children that will help them understand the relationship between food and our bodies in an appropriate and hopefully life-long beneficial way.
1. Model a balanced diet of healthy, nutritious food.
Kids are sponges! They observe and learn from nearly everything we do. Therefore, parents are often the primary example of healthy (or unhealthy) eating behaviors.
Help your children understand the purpose of food, what it does to help our bodies work and grow, and how different types of food have different effects on our body.
Rather than labeling “good” and “bad” foods, let them know which foods in their diet are nutritious and beneficial.
Desserts and treats have their place as well–help kids to understand the difference and how to appropriately balance their intake.
2. Model healthy eating attitudes.
Just as important, parents are the go to example of healthy eating attitudes.
Be aware of any critical remarks you make regarding your own body and eliminate words like “diet” from your vocabulary.
Try not to make critical comments about others’ bodies (strangers, friends, etc.) Children pick up on these remarks and may be reactive to other people’s size and shape.
3. Emphasize healthy lifestyle choices instead of weight loss.
It’s important to emphasize healthy lifestyle choices rather than weight loss as a goal.
Be aware of talking about calories, fitting into certain articles of clothing, needing to lose X pounds before summer/events/vacations, etc.
Model an active lifestyle and get your children engaged with their bodies.
Creating body awareness helps strengthen the understanding and desire for fueling our bodies to be strong and healthy.
Engage in physical activities as a family and encourage them to participate in sports and other activities that require movement, engagement, coordination, motor skills, and/or being outside!
When weight is put into the context of an ongoing learning process about healthy living, it’s not quite as scary!
Remember, you want your children to learn healthy eating habits and eating attitudes so that they’ll be healthy, well-developed, well-nourished people–not simply to keep them from being overweight. If weight is your focus, they’re likely to pick up on that as the most important factor as well.
Thanks Dr. Lyndsay! What do you all think? How do you handle the topic of weight in your family? Do you have any questions for Dr. Lyndsay? Please comment below!