Summer break is here which means warm weather, swim season, outdoor activities, summer holidays, and fun social events! This also means now is the time to seize the moment and create an opportunity to have an important conversation with our children about what it means to be body positive. Puzzled at where to even begin? We have four ideas for teaching children about body positivity. 

Become a super ROLE model

Children pay attention a lot more than we give them credit for. Helping them value body positivity has to start with you. Remember that your words and actions matter. How we talk about our, and others, bodies is so important. We can set boundaries around criticism and compliments which is key to building trust and self-esteem. Reminding our kids that confidence and comfort are things we can give ourselves, not just get from others is vital as well. We can lead by example in how we care for ourselves; prioritizing healthy sleep, self-care, and personal habits.

Let’s get PHYSICAL

In a day and age where technology is king, it is important to emphasize connection; not only to other people but to our bodies. It can be helpful to establish a routine that creates space for physical activity. Try this language: “In our family, taking care of our body matters. We do this by ____ .” Whether you incorporate solo forms of exercise or group activities depends on your child’s personality. Reaching out to local community centers about different team sports or group activities can be a game-changer in helping our kids discover the world, build relationships and unlock inner talents/passions. Often, activities are offered seasonally, so empowering your child with choices and variety without it needing to be a permanent decision takes the pressure off and makes exercise a fun avenue of self-expression. Another idea is to make fitness a family affair. Going for family walks or bike rides after dinner can be a great way to build connection and value for movement. Family yoga on a Saturday morning can be an awesome way to get the weekend off to a great start. Remember, fitness is highly customizable, and the best workouts are the ones that work for you and that you look forward to doing.

Make friends with FOOD

Creating a healthy relationship with food at a young age is essential in maintaining a healthy balance as an adult. Rather than using verbiage that pits foods against each other like “good” or “bad”/”junk” foods, try the Always-Sometimes-Rarely method. “Always” foods are things like fruits and vegetables, lean protein, healthy fats, and whole grains. “Sometimes” foods are the yummy treats we get on special occasions like our favorite takeout, red meat, and starchy vegetables, like potatoes. “Rarely” foods are things high in sugar, salt, or trans fats like highly processed, packaged, or fried foods. Explain that certain foods are easier for our bodies to use to help us feel healthy, energized, and strong. Others may taste really yummy, but don’t give our bodies anything good in return. A creative way to encourage curiosity and build appreciation for what is on our plates is by making grocery shopping or farmers markets a family adventure and learning opportunity.

What’s on your MIND?

Health is about more than just the body; it starts in the brain. On a scientific level, food and exercise affect hormone balance, which has a huge impact on the chemicals our brain makes to keep our mood stabilized and bodily processes moving smoothly. Teaching kids to value mental health will only serve them later in life. Some helpful ways to check in with your kids on what they’re thinking and feeling are morning mantras and evening affirmations. Taking the time to appreciate and celebrate non-physical attributes is a very important practice to incorporate into your daily routine. It builds confidence, self-awareness, and the ability to communicate what’s going on inside your child’s world. Connect and check-in at dinner or bedtime about their day, and what may be on their mind about tomorrow. Some helpful language for this is highs/lows, roses/thorns, prayers/praises, or wins/losses. Whatever verbiage helps your child connect and understand, use that!

Expand Your Library with these Body Positive Books for Kids
I Like Myself! by Karen Beaumont
I Love My Hair! by Natasha Anastasia Tarpley
What I Like About Me! by Allia Zobel Nolan
The Colors of Us by Karen Katz
What’s Silly Hair Day with No Hair? by Norene Paulson
Brontorina by James Howe
Eyes That Kiss in the Corners by Joanna Ho
Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon by Patty Lovell
Dancing in the Wings by Debbie Allen
Love Your Body by Jessica Sanders
Guy Stuff: The Body Book for Boys Paperback by Cara Natterson
Being You: The Body Image Book for Boys by Charlotte Markey
Because I am Me: Positive Affirmations for Brown Boys Paperback by Erika J. Gibson
The Boy with Big, Big Feelings by Britney Winn Lee
All Bodies Are Good Bodies by Charlotte Barkla
A Boy Like You by Frank Murphy
My Body Sends a Signal: Helping Kids Recognize Emotions and Express Feelings by Natalia Maguire
Pink Is for Boys by Robb Pearlman