So now that we’re well into February, most of us have long forgotten our New Year’s resolutions. But I urge you to remember one: to “Be the Best Mom” you can be this year. In January, I shared my New Year’s resolution to “Be the Best Mom” with more positive thinking. Since then we have heard from many moms who have shared their plans to “Be the Best Mom” they can be in 2013, including specific steps that you can implement, too! So far we’ve heard from Karyn about her great ideas to teach her kids about good nutrition, from Stephanie with her great tips to get organized, from Sara with her mission for managing stress in the new year, from Varya with her simple steps to make reading fun for her kids, and from Sheila with her plans for teaching her kids about service. Now, let’s hear again from Stephanie about how she plans to be a postive body image role model for her kids in 2013.
Body Image & Kids
Once again, I am so happy to be posting at B-Inspired Mama today! In my last Be A Better Mom post, I shared my plan to banish clutter from my home, complete with the shameful “before” pictures. Today’s topic is a little more serious – I’m going to tell you how I plan to be a positive body image role model for my children and share some easy ways that you can do the same for yours.
Having battled with eating disorders for more than half my adult life, this topic hits pretty close to home for me. You can read a bit more about my personal struggle here, but suffice it to say that I have given this subject a LOT of thought. It took several years of hard work to get to a point where I felt I could consider starting a family, and now that I have two beautiful children, I’ve taken what I learned in all those hours of therapy and come up with a few truths to share with other mothers.
My #1 tip is not about food, or physical activity, or messages from the media; it’s about you and your attitudes toward yourself!
Remember: Actions Speak Louder Than Words
You can say all the right things to your children. Tell them they are beautiful just the way they are, that it’s what’s on the inside that really matters, that weight is just a number. You can read all the parenting books that say to emphasize brains over beauty when praising your little ones. But if they see you obsessing over your own appearance, stressing over every calorie, cataloguing every fault, all your lip service has been for naught. Why should they love themselves if their own mother can’t do the same?
I’m by no means saying it’s wrong to spend time getting dressed and putting on a little makeup. Seeing you take pride in your appearance is important, too! After all, children learn self-esteem from adults in their lives. Just be aware of the message you send when you are hyper-critical of yourself in front of them. That’s their Mama you are talking about!
Here are some more ways to be a positive body-image role model for your children:
- If you can’t say anything nice (about yourself)…don’t say anything at all! Cutting out the negative self-talk we all have in our minds is especially hard for someone with an ED. I still catch myself making self-depricating comments on occasion. Just remember, your voice will eventually become the voice in your child’s head, but the comments will be directed at himself.
- Throw away your scale. This is not just for people with a history of eating disorders. If you can’t bear to part with it, put it up in the closet. Even if you are dieting, you shouldn’t be weighing every day. And your children should never see your happiness hinged to a fluctuating number!
- Ditch the diet talk. Speaking of dieting… I’ve seen mamas who start a diet and broadcast it to the world. Even to the point of posting their daily caloric intake to Facebook. What message is this sending to their daughters? Dieting is obviously a no-no for someone with a history of disordered eating, but can quickly become an unhealthy obsession for others, too. If you need to lose weight, it’s a much better tactic to slowly make healthy changes to your cooking and exercise regimen that you know you can sustain for the long run. Tell your kids you are doing it to be healthy, not skinny. And please, don’t take diet pills in front of them. They see it, and they know you do it. And they will want to do it too.
*Now, I know this next one may be tough, but it made a huge difference in my recovery…
- Stop watching reality television. And bringing home all the celeb gossip magazines from the grocery store. I was a gossip JUNKIE when I was practicing unhealthy behaviors, and I know it was directly feeding the disorder! I wholeheartedly believe that the media’s obsession with physical “perfection” creates a skewed and unrealistic ideal in otherwise rational adults, which trickles right down to our children. Stop the madness!
Although my twins are only two years old, I am actively working on putting these things into practice. The hardest thing for me is choosing my words carefully when I talk about my appearance, and I suppose this will always be a struggle. But I’ll do it for my babies, and I hope you will join me!
Looking for more tips on promoting positive body image in children? Check out this post on Rainy Day Mum for ten great ideas!
Stephanie is a speech-language pathologist specializing in early language and autism who is currently staying home with her two-year-old twins. She blogs about early childhood activities, creative projects, and parenting adventures (and mishaps) atTwodaloo. She can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and G+.
I love how honest Stephanie is about her previous experience with an eating disorder and the perspective that it brings to us mamas. These are such important things to remember while raising our kids, our girls especially.
Do you think about modeling a positive body image for your kids?
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