Negative body image is something that affects most people at some point in life. It's very common to feel unhappy with a specific part of your body. However, by expressing this dissatisfaction around your children you may be influencing them more than you realise and research shows children are more likely to be dissatisfied with their own body when surrounded by this negativity.
Recently, Kourtney Kardashian, in an interview with Cosmopolitan, explained why she told her own mother off for asking, "Do I look fat in this?" in front of her child. Kourtney said: "There are so many conversations that we have without thinking the kids are listening. I just don't want to start getting anybody self-conscious. They say if a mother is confident about her body that the daughters are way more likely to not have eating disorders. I'm fine about my body but I'll notice little things. If I'm like, 'Ugh, I hate this outfit! I'm changing!' My daughter will try on tons of outfits before she's happy."
This attitude to parenting can promote a healthier body image. It's easy to underestimate just how much your words resonate with your children. According to Kids Health; "If you're excessively harsh on yourself, pessimistic, or unrealistic about your abilities and limitations, your kids might eventually mirror you. Nurture your own self-esteem and they'll have a great role model."
Pressured to look good
The concerns surrounding body image are growing, with a recent Good Childhood Report stating 34% of girls in the UK aged 10-15 years are unhappy with their appearance, indicating body image is a real problem amongst young people. A Credos report also found 53% of secondary school boys surveyed felt pressure from friends to look good, and 10% confessed to skipping meals to change their appearance. Being surrounded by glossy and doctored images in both the press and on social media, young people are feeling the pressure to look good. Statistics like these make it more important than ever for parents to ensure they are instilling a healthy attitude to body image in their children.
Priory's Director of Wellbeing Centres, and Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist, Dr Hayley van Zwanenberg, said: "Young children should not be worrying about their weight or appearance. It is important to remember that children learn from their parents. Parents are their role models. It is really important that parents try as hard as they can not to comment on their own physical insecurities in front of their children. If weight is a focus of discussion in front of children at a young age, they can become very absorbed in this and form the wrong core beliefs about a healthy body and their own body, which can lead to issues later in life."
So, keep up with the Kardashian example, and begin forging a positive, healthy attitude to body image in your children. It can aid their long-term mental wellbeing.
For more details on the full range of Priory Eating Disorder Services, please call 0800 840 3219 or click here to make an enquiry.