Being involved in the dance, fashion and fitness worlds, I am very familiar with self-loathing and disgust for our bodies. How more often than not, we pick our bodies apart into sections that we love and we hate. And the parts that we hate are often where we dwell. I want to be sure that my children are not taught to look for the negative in their bodies, but to love and appreciate the wonderful things that our bodies can do.
To begin, don’t bring up their bodies with attention to size. Talk about health. Talk about why health is important so their bodies operate the best they can to make us happy. Talk about the different functions that parts of their bodies complete all by its amazing self. Where does our food go after we eat? How do our bodies use the food we eat? What foods are more beneficial to help our bodies run more efficiently? What happens when we eat junk foods that do not nourish our bodies? Where does that food go? Explain how much harder our bodies need to work to figure out what exactly it is we are ingesting because our systems do not recognize the ingredients to be used in any functional way. Help them understand the big picture, for it will give them a more solid understanding of why being healthy is so wonderful.
Ignore weight. Weight is a number we are supposed to use within reason to base health upon. That is crazy. A number on a scale has absolutely no measure of someone’s health. We are not weighed based upon our height, muscle mass or fluids inside. In my opinion it’s okay to use weight for ‘scientific’ purposes, thus recording an indicator of your physical pull to the earth over the span of your lifetime and to observe changes based upon external circumstances. However hearing my 6 year old telling my 8 year old that she weighs more than her, and she is proud of it, only reminds me that it will soon not be something she is taught to be proud of in society, and secondly, I do not want her even considering for a moment how much she weighs. It’s not of any importance. None.
As an adult we are conditioned that dieting is necessary to achieve good health. That is bogus. How about eating healthy most of the time, and consuming the foods that give our bodies no nourishment in moderation. Teach by example and don’t make it seem torturous or difficult. For I believe that is learned as well. What if we could teach our kids to enjoy eating healthy by our own example and show them we do enjoy healthy foods. I am here to tell you that WE CAN!!! 🙂
Don’t talk about other women’s or men’s bodies at all in front of your kids. Not complimenting or berating. Don’t wish for someone’s tight abs, or criticize someone’s muffin top. Why? Because what are our kids learning from that? They are learning to value what we say. So keep it to yourself, and just maybe they will be able to escape the judgements that so many of us heard and picked up as we matured. Instead of complimenting someone’s amazing body, can’t we compliment their kind action? Or how well someone shared? Or was generous?
Explain the benefits of exercise for health purposes. How it helps us de-stress. Or how great we feel after yoga. Or going for a run helps us feel our hearts being used and pumping blood through our bodies. Or even how walking outside helps us connect with nature and sleep better.
Give your kids the chance to get athletic through any activity because it helps their brains learn in new ways. How their muscles work better with the more they are used. How their lungs are given the chance to fill with more oxygen and how that oxygen is necessary for us. How the social interactions are encouraging our kids to learn about different types of people, and how they are given the chance to co-exist with others in ways that they may or may not appreciate quite yet.
Overall, teach our kids to love their bodies because they are the only ones they will ever get.