Loving yourself isn’t is as easy as it sounds.
As a younger child I don’t remember lacking in confidence or having a negative body image but it quickly changed when I hit my teens. Every magazine, every TV show was awash with stars with sinewy limbs and emaciated became a ‘thing’.
It was then that I started to think about my weight. I’ve always been curvy with a big bust, which looking back wasn’t really a bad thing. I managed to attract the opposite sex without too many problems and when I look at photos from my late teens and early 20’s – I think I looked pretty good.
Saying that, I’ve always been the girl that just needed to sniff something a little bit naughty and I’d put on three stone, I’ve had a love hate relationship with both exercise and food since by teens, a relationship that carries on into my 30’s.
I’ve been fat, I’ve been thin, I’ve been fit and I’ve been what would be deemed ‘normal’ with regards to the NHS’s BMI calculator. I’ve starved myself, obsessed over the gym and felt downright rubbish about myself. Even though I’m 32, I’m still not happy with my body, I’m too heavy for my frame and have a lot of weight to loose, something I obsess about on a daily basic. Something I DO NOT want to pass on to my toddler.
The little man is not quite three and he’s already noticed my issues with food. He asked me a couple of days ago why I wasn’t eating my dinner with him. Instead I was nursing a diet shake instead. It made me quite sad that even at a young age he’s totally aware that my diet isn’t normal. I’m trying my best to ensure my body image doesn’t influence his. I don’t want him to obsess over his weight or size.
The aim of the #LoveYourselfProject is to help children build their self-esteem and confidence even from a young age.
As a Mother I want to encourage the little man to have a positive body image. I tell him how gorgeous he is daily and we often point out his favourite features and talk about his body parts. I want to teach him to be confident in his own skin whilst encouraging him to make conscious decisions about his health and food choices.
Young people with a positive image of themselves are likely to feel more comfortable and confident in their day to day life and their ability to succeed.
There are some simple things your can introduce into your day to day routine to encourage a positive body image, self esteem and increase confidence : –
Encourage fitness and not the scales
I think one of the most important things I can teach the little man is why physical fitness and a healthy diet is important. Perhaps, if I’d learnt more about it when I was younger I’d be much happier in my own skin now.
Children shouldn’t need to worry about their weight or numbers on the scales – encouraging play, physical activity and healthy food is much more important.
Fitness isn’t just great for health it’s also a great way to teach him how to be confident in a social setting. For the last 4 months the little man has been attending a weekly football group of young children and his confidence has sky rocketed. He no longer needs Mammy and Daddy to follow him round and scoots off for 45 minutes only returning to us for a drink!
Talk about why people are different
A positive image is important for both boys and girls and not only of themselves. A child should know that no one is perfect and the idealistic person that the media portrays is nothing more than fiction. Discuss air brushing and the way it is used to manipulated us into seeing something unrealistic.
Everyone has flaws and they should be embraced not ridiculed.
Discuss the need for different foods and the necessity to limit certain types
Fruit and vegetables may not always be at the top of the little mans list but I try to explain why they’re important and why he can’t just live on cake and chocolate biscuits! If a child is taught or shown something from a young age it will likely stay with them throughout their life.
Most children like to be praised when they do a good job. I try to make my praise realistic. I want the little man to feel proud of his achievements.
I want the little man to be a positive and confident little man and I’ll do my best to encourage him along the way.
Do you have any top tips for encourage a positive body image and self esteem in childhood?