While losing weight is really important to you right now, it’s not a good idea to talk about your child’s weight. Similarly, if they’re in earshot it’s probably wise to avoid words such as ‘heavy’ ‘fat’ ‘thin’ and instead talk about how you’re working on getting fit and healthy, not a certain weight or size.
Kids are like little sponges, soaking up everything we say and do, which is why you’re best to leave those weight-centred conversations for when you’re with adults or not have them at all.
Ensuring our child’s body image is not distorted and that they love their body no matter what shape or size they are is crucial.
Here’s 5 things you should avoid talking about or doing around your kids.
1. Body shaming yourself
In the eyes of your children you are perfect, they don’t see physical flaws that you might and so you want this type of thinking to stay. Never talk about yourself in a bad way in front of them or say you can’t wear certain clothes because you’re too fat. Additionally avoid constantly talking about how great it will be when you lose weight.
If you’ve always struggled with your body image it might be hard to talk about yourself in a positive way, but by doing so your children will learn that positive feelings are not dependent on a particular weight.
Tip: Stand in front of the mirror with your children and celebrate what you both love about yourselves.
2. Stop calling foods ‘good’ and ‘bad’
Teach your kids to have a healthy relationship with food instead of just eating ‘healthy’ foods. Help them recognise and honour their hunger and full cues by giving them a wide variety of food and letting them decide what and how much to eat. Talk about foods in a non-judgemental way so kids learn that some foods are more nutritious than others and not just ‘bad’ for you.
3. Don’t make fun or point out large people
Weight bullying is sadly the number one type of bullying at schools and if you make comments about larger people or laugh at fat jokes you are part of the problem. Having a laugh at someone else’s expense or shaming someone else will teach your kids that it’s okay to do so. When you see a particularly overweight person turn the experience into a teachable moment where you share your values about size and diversity.
4. Quit talking about exercise as a weight-loss tool
Saying that you need to exercise because you ate too much is teaching kids that exercise is punishment for eating the wrong foods and that the main reason to exercise is to change your body. You want kids to think of physical activity as a fun activity and source of pleasure, not just something they do because they’re worried about getting fat.
5. Avoid complimenting people on their weight
Telling someone they look great because they’ve lost weight is such a common thing for people to say, especially those of the older generation. When kids hear this they learn what’s valued when it comes to body size and learn it’s acceptable to judge other people’s bodies. We need to model for our kids that bodies, including theirs, are not up for discussion.
Remember: If we tell kids they look great because they have a thin build then what happens if they gain weight? Weight shaming is insidious, and we’re hurting kids when we give them the message that being thin is the only way to be successful and happy.