A Parent’s Guide to… mental health and body image

How children think and feel about their bodies can have a huge impact on their wellbeing

It’s Mental Health Awareness Week and the theme for this year is Body Image. A negative body image can lead to low self-esteem, poor mental health and increases the likelihood of disordered eating. Recent research has found that from as young as 7 years old children are experiencing emotional distress relating to their weight.

Here are our top tips for promoting a positive body image in your child:

1. Focus on health, not weight

When it comes to making changes try working from the inside out. Focusing on making changes for your health and body is a healthier approach than trying to change body shape alone. Encouraging your child to eat well and feel healthy promotes a better relationship with food and shifts the focus away from weight and image.

2. Be a positive role model

Try not to make negative comments about your own body image in front of your child. Consider how you talk about your own diet too – eating well should be about being healthy not losing weight.

3. Tell your child why they are special

Compliment your child on their inner attributes, not just physical ones. Help boost their self- esteem by giving your child the opportunity to tell you all of the things they are good at.  Higher self-esteem improves mental wellbeing and is protective against eating disorders.

 4. Practice ‘everything in moderation

Try not to label food as good or bad, all food is fine to eat in moderation and teaching your child about a healthy balance of all foods is a good way to promote a healthy relationship with food for now and in the future.

 5. Limit social media

The Royal Society for Public Health has recently published findings that body image dissatisfaction is higher amongst social media users. The NHS recommends that screen time is limited to 2 hours per day, which would include social media usage. Talk to your child about how the images they see on social media may not be ‘real’.

6. Encourage self-care

Encouraging your child take care of themselves and respect their body is an important aspect for building their self-worth. This includes eating well, getting enough sleep, managing stress and exercising. Focus on everyday activities that promote these healthy habits.

7. Encourage physical activity

Being active not only releases feel good hormones but is also a reminder of the amazing things that the body can do! Try becoming more active as a family and focussing on fun rather than exercise.

8. Get help

If you are concerned about your child’s mental wellbeing then speak to their doctor or school nurse for more support.

 

Want to ingrain healthy habits in your family but need a helping hand? That’s exactly what we’re here for!  BeeZee Families provides kids with fun ways to learn about good nutrition and keeping active, but we also support mums and dads with the tools and parenting techniques you need to deal with fussy eaters, stubbornness and conflict.

You can join our next round of BeeZee Families groups in September; sign up here to join the waiting list.

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