Sunday, May 8, 2016

How to teach our children to love their bodies

Here's a fabulous article from my favorite guest writer. I'm dealing with trying to parent my daughters through the tough teen and tween years. Developing a positive body image is part of that and it is HARD. Here, Chris offers up an important, wise and timely article, from a guy's perspective.

From A Guy's Perspective: Body Image Issues & Good Parenting
by Lizzy Smith and Chris                    
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May 09, 2016
635540158910907927Fotolia_61309990_XS.jpgMy favorite guy guest-writer opines about one of my favorite topics du jour: body issues and how to deal with it as parents. Chris is wise and hearing from the male side of the aisle is always interesting and helpful. And on this one, Chris does not disappoint.

The Unmanageable Body Imageby Chris, guest blogger

Many of us struggle our entire lives with body-image issues, mostly involving shame, embarrassment, or simply wishing contrary to fact and reason that some feature was different. How, as parents, can we hope to give our children enthusiasm, take away the hurtful words of peers, or simply ignore or suppress these feelings, when we continue to make the same kinds of judgments about ourselves, and we give credit to the judgments expressed by others?

A child’s feelings can be as fragile as a moth’s wings

Feelings of some diminishment of self-worth based on visual appearance and comparison to others are near universal. They aren’t universal. There are people who care nothing about their own appearance or what others’ judgments may be about their appearance. They’re the exception, maybe an enviable one, but not part of my own experience as a person or as a parent. I also can’t deal, within a few printed words, with manifestations of self-doubt that take the form or harmful behaviors like self-mutilation, such as cutting, or eating disorders that can destroy health. If a behavior based in body self-image is getting in the way of not just enjoyment of life but also getting in the way of doing the things we need to do to be productive and social people, then professional intervention is called for.

As a parent, the key is probably to model the behavior we want to see in our children, and to seek professional help if these negative thoughts begin to get in the way of the rest of life.

The challenge is that as adults we’re often continuing to harbor our own self-doubts. It should come as no surprise then that our children are unlikely to confide in us their own doubts about themselves. I remember at age five looking in the mirror, being upset with what I saw, and telling my mother that my head was too big. It seems completely silly today, but at age five, it was a personal crisis. Ultimately, and likely very quickly, I got over that worry and grew a body that fit my head in more pleasing proportion, and probably never again mentioned to my mother any dissatisfaction with my physical body. So my concerns ended there? No, not even close, but I began to learn acceptance. I grew up with two parents in the house, and I’m sure that I never mentioned anything like that to my father. He would have considered anything short of a compound fracture (broken bone protruding from the skin) to be frivolous.

How do we help our children become comfortable not just in their own skins, but with their own skins?

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