Real beauty

No matter how hard we try to convince our children that real beauty comes from within and that being happy in your own skin will make you more attractive, our children can’t seem to help agonizing over their ‘imperfections’.

The self-flogging begins at a very early age and often we are at least partially to blame.  Our children hear us complaining about our weight, about our wrinkles and about our frizzy hair and they internalize that, if we are not “good enough”, then they must not be either.  Instead of being critical of our looks, wouldn’t it be great if we could rejoice in all the things that make us beautiful.  Check out this eye-opening video from Dove about the impact we, as parents, have on our children’s body image.

If you are committed to making sure your children have a healthy attitude about their bodies, you may also wish to read these posts on Body Image and The impact of the media on body image.

 

You are what you think

You are what you think!  The mind is an incredibly powerful thing, but you can choose to have this work for or against you.  If you let your mind get all cluttered up with negative self-talk, pretty soon you will believe these words and life will play out accordingly.  If, on the other hand, your self-talk is nurturing, forgiving and optimistic, your mind will accept your thoughts as truth and attract positive things to you.

We’ve all been guilty of negative self-talk (“That was so stupid!?” “I can’t believe I messed up again!”), but it only serves to chip away at our feelings of self-worth.  In addition, our children observe our self-flogging and learn this self-esteem-killing behavior.

Instead, wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could teach our children the life skill of ‘positive thinking’.  What a difference it could make in their lives!  After all, positive thoughts are both free, and freeing!

Get your FREE copy of this Positive Thoughts Poster at http://www.kindovermatter.com/2011/01/freebie-alert-free-positive-thoughts.html.

Make something similar for my counseling door.

Do your best to ensure that positive thoughts are the first thing to come into your head when you wake up and the last thing you think about when you go to sleep at night…and teach your children to do the same!

If you’re interested in teaching your children how to be more at peace with themselves, you may also wish to read my posts on “Making mistakes” and “Patience“.

Body Image

The summer is supposed to be a ‘carefree’ time of year, but the truth is, for many kids, it is a time of anxiety and self-consciousness.  No longer can they ‘hide’ behind the bulky clothes of winter…summer wardrobes are much more merciless.  We don’t like to believe that our children are spending their youth worrying about how they look in shorts, but the reality is that this sort of body image anxiety is becoming more and more prevalent, and at younger and younger ages (I talked to a number of parents who told me that their daughters spoke about being ‘fat’ from as early as 5 years old).

Truthfully, this has always been an issue to a certain extent (I remember comparing myself to pictures of Farrah Fawcett in teen magazines and coming up woefully short), but exposure to such images was limited, compared to today.  These days, kids of all ages are bombarded with images of “perfection” everywhere they turn, via magazines, TV, video games, YouTube and social media.  Unfortunately, they are simply not equipped to see it for the marketing ploy that it is and to realize that such perfection is not realistic or, in many cases, healthy.

It used to be that concerns about body image were considered to be a “girl issue”, but this is certainly not the case anymore.  Exposure to an endless stream of images where men have perfect “six-pack abs” (including video game characters and comic book superheroes), has led boys down the same road of body image angst.

This dissatisfaction with their own bodies, can sometimes lead children to experiment with unhealthy, and even dangerous, conduct.  Unproven diets, bulimia, plastic surgery, over-exercising and steroids are only some of the risky behaviors that are tested, in an effort to attain “the perfect body”.

I came across some videos by Common Sense Media, that do a great job of outlining the main body image issues for each gender, and providing some tips to help parents talk to their children about what it means to have an healthy body image.  Click the links below to view these videos in YouTube.

Girls & Body Image  (YouTube video by Common Sense Media)
Boys & Body Image  (YouTube video by Common Sense Media)

Children’s bodies go through a lot of changes in their journey to adulthood, and sometimes the path can be a little rocky, but if we can convince them to be patient and to focus less on external beauty and more on what other things make them unique and special, there is a good chance that they will make it to adulthood with their self-esteem intact.