5 Ways to Promote a Positive Body Image in Your Home

six children running hand in hand toward sunset
Staying active as a family can encourage good health and help your kids become more confident in their physical strengths. Here are five family-friendly tips to try at home!

by Mary Lambkin

We've talked a lot about body positivity and confidence-building self-talk in recent articles, so it makes sense to continue the conversation and discuss the importance of maintaining a favorable body image.

Body image — as defined as how you feel about your appearance, what you think about your body, and how you behave as a result of your thoughts and feelings — is a powerful force that can impact a number of aspects in your daily life. By having a positive body image and being comfortable in your own skin, you're more likely to feel happier (and healthier) and encourage others to adopt a more positive view of themselves. You can help your family members maintain positive body images by practicing these five healthy habits at home.

1. Form a Healthy Relationship With Your Own Body

It's no secret that children mimic the behaviors of their parents and role models, so if you're constantly criticizing your body, you can expect young ones to take notice. A study found that girls as young as 5 years olddisplayed an awareness of dieting and a desire to be thin, meaning that it's never too early to start encouraging healthy habits and a positive body image in your home.

If you're a parent who's on a fitness journey, be sure to approach the topic from a positive perspective with your kids. It's a good idea to focus on the healthy choices you're making, rather than the calories you need to cut or the pounds you want to lose.

2. Avoid Comparisons

As a parent, it's far too easy to compare yourself and your children to other families, especially when it comes to physical appearance and athletic abilities. Set a healthy example for your kids by avoiding comparisons; accept yourself for who you are and promote a healthy lifestyle by encouraging your children to love and embrace themselves as well.

It's your job to teach your children that we are all unique and should cherish the qualities that make us who we are. No one is better — or worse — than anyone else. Celebrate your children at every stage of growth and encourage them to have confidence in their bodies.

3. Establish a Family Dinner Routine

Research shows that parents and caregivers play a crucial role in the development of a child's relationship with food, including their eating habits and preferences as well as their ability to regulate portion control and cravings. This is especially true during the first five years of a child's life.

By sitting down together at the dinner table at least a few times a week — without the distraction of toys or television — you can help your kids feel comfortable trying new foods, engage in the social benefits of sharing a meal, and identify with feelings of hunger and fullness. Try to keep a relaxed mood at the dinner table, using mealtimes as an opportunity to connect with each other and not for worrying about the workday or stressing about what your child eats.

4. Take Time for Self-Reflection and Goal Setting

Children become more aware of their bodies and capabilities around two years of age. This is when many toddlers begin to express themselves through movement (everything from throw-yourself-on-the-floor tantrums to jump-up-and-down happy dances). As your child explores their physical limits, remember to practice patience and maintain a positive environment.

As kids grow older, you can encourage them to think more about the way they feel about their bodies through fun activities that include self-reflection. For example, have your child tell you about the amazing things their body is capable of. Get out old family photos and teach your children about how they've inherited physical traits from their relatives. Talk about a sport or activity your child is interested in — such as dance or running — and make a list of fitness goals related to it (like mastering a cartwheel or jogging a whole mile).

5. Plan Active Family Getaways

Staying active as a family can encourage good health and help your kids become more confident in their physical strengths. Weekends are great for active getaways like long bike rides, hikes, and family-friendly events like charity 5Ks. During the week, you can squeeze in a few minutes of family exercise by taking a walk together after dinner or playing a game of tag in the yard.

If bad weather has you cooped up inside, consider heading to a local gym or community center for a game of basketball or indoor hide-and-seek. You can even go to the mall for a power walking session.

Make an effort to avoid being overly critical of yourself or your children while you're on the go, at the finish line, on the court, or even in the dressing room. Instead, encourage them with positive reinforcement and praise them for a great effort!

As always, please consult with a physician prior to beginning any exercise program. See full medical disclaimer here.