How do I help my child with her body image?


Body image can be a tender subject at just about any age; however children need our guidance through this issue. As children grow into preteens and teenagers, they are noticing changes not only in their bodies, but also the bodies of their friends and peers. This can lead to confusion as to where they fit into the "scale" of things.

The first step is to check out your own body image. How do you relate to your body? Do you feel comfortable in your own skin? Or are you always complaining about needing to lose a few pounds? Do you take care of your physical body with proper nutrition and fun movement? Children learn a lot of their body behaviors from their parents and other adults that surround them. To foster a healthy body image within your child, start by fostering a healthy body image within yourself.

Explain that we are all made abundantly different and that is one of the BEST things! Remind your child that perfection is nonexistent since our bodies change with the ebb and flow of our lives. Approach the body from a health related stance as opposed to a physical attributes stance. In other words, think about the health of the body as a whole instead of the size of the jeans.

Encourage you child in open discussion about the media "perfections" we see all the time. Maybe even look through some magazines together. Stay up to date on what's new so you can stay connected. Teach your child the concept of perfect photography, i.e. Photoshop. Keep conversion about body image open and nonjudgmental.

Last, encourage your child to focus on what he/she likes about their physique (again, turn to health). Perhaps they are a fast runner, or maybe they are very flexible. Remind them to focus on the good and never try to change to be like somebody else. Perfection is nonexistent and it is futile and nerve racking to attempt it. Focus on health and well-being, get active together, and always lead with positivity!

Dr. Robin Miller, MD
Internal Medicine
It can be critically important for children to have a good body image. In this video, Dr. Robin Miller explains the damage that a poor body image can do to anyone.


Continue Learning about Body Image

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.