They say children are like sponges and imitate what their parents do and say. This can be cute but it can also become a problem, especially if what they are imitating is body-shaming and negative self-talk about food. This is not effective and can often cause negative side-effects for your children and family. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Read on to learn how you can talk about food and bodies without planting the seed of shame.
Teach attention to and identification of body sensations, such as tired, hungry, etc.
Help your children to identify what they are experiencing in their bodies. It is so easy for us to just think, “Man, you are cranky today” or “He is whiny because he is tired”. It can be really helpful for kids to focus on what their body is telling them. Have a conversation with your child — How do you feel when you are getting sleepy? Maybe give them some ideas. For example, “When I get sleepy, things that are normally easy for me can start to seem hard and sometimes my body feels really slow and heavy”. Once your child learns that their body gives them important information, they can also learn that they can take action to take care of it. What helps you when you are feeling sleepy? Have these kinds of little conversations about feeling hungry, needing attention or love, being scared, all kinds of experiences that we can feel in our bodies. Here’s the tough part, parents — In teaching your children to take care of their own bodies sensations and needs, you need to model taking care of your own. So, are you feeling tired? What could you do to help you to recover a little bit?
Encourage exploration of individual strengths, rather than pushing a mold
The family sport may be baseball, but if your child’s hand eye coordination isn’t where it may need to be for them to enjoy and feel successful at baseball, allow them to explore other sports or activities that might help them find a sense of accomplishment. Encourage all your children, but especially those under 10 years old, to experiment with different activities and have fun discovering all the varied ways to be active. Invite family play that includes touch, stretching, silly non-choreographed movement or dancing, or exploration of their senses, all ways for your children to discover their own bodies and what it can do and feel.
– Melissa Fritchle
Photo source – Flickr.com