Teaching Children Body Positivity
I teach a small group of girls every Wednesday; we call ourselves SPARKLE. Recently, my warrior princesses have been learning a dance. They stand in two rows and watch me, mirroring the motions I do with my hands and arms back to me. Their eyes are focused. They barely blink; they are paying such careful attention to what I do.
These little girls are always paying careful attention to what I do.
There is an old adage which says, “More is caught than taught.” The same can be said about body positivity and self-esteem. Most of us would NEVER intentionally damage the confidence of a child. We would never call them fat or ugly, critique their hair or teeth or stomach.
BUT, what do we say about ourselves when we are around them? You see, children are watching us. They are learning how to view and love themselves by listening to us. So, what are YOU showing the young men and women around you to believe about their bodies?
Here’s a few things to remember:
1) Never speak negatively about your physical appearance or the appearance of anyone else in front of a child.
2) Point out all the amazing things that bodies can do. Encourage children to value what bodies do as opposed to how they appear. “Man, you are so strong. Look at how easily you lifted that!”
3) Encourage character development , instead of merely focusing on physical attributes. “You are so brave!”
4) Put children in situations where they learn to relate to people who look differently than them. “Why don’t you work with so-and-so.”
5) Celebrate a child’s kind and accepting behavior of others. “I love how you stood up for so-and-so. Let’s go get some ice cream!”
We may not all have daughters and sons, but we all know daughters and sons. We can change the world by slowly changing the system of value being forced onto boys and girls. Let’s teach them what really matters. Let’s show them what true beauty looks like. Let’s empower them to speak up and speak out for themselves and for others.