The holidays are an excellent time to sample delicious treats and relish in the plenty. However, with the holiday season soon followed by the “work off that turkey” or “get beach ready” season, it is common for young children to absorb negative messages about their body and appearance. 

The relationship children develop with their bodies starts early and lasts a lifetime. Children as young as three will observe and internalize cues from their environment about the “perfect body” and ways to improve their appearance. Researchers from the University of Illinois School of Social Work found that body-related self-confidence is influenced as early as preschool by a child’s family and home environment. And yet, it’s not easy to be body positive all the time; it is difficult to escape world of weight loss commercials, picturesque models, and nonstop diet advertisements.  

But here’s the good news – achild’s first teacher in life, parents and caregivers have the power to turn poor self-image and anxious body thoughts into self-confidence and body positivity at any age. A caregiver’s efforts to encourage bodyrelated self-confidence reduces the risk of unhealthy dieting habits and mental health disorders linked to poor self-image later in life.

Curious where to start? Consider the following when setting the stage for a body-positive household  

  • Check yourself – as the caregiver, consider the body messages you have heard and the impact this had on youWere these messages helpful or hurtful? Why was this important at the time? Is this something you want for your child? Always remember your experiences influence the way you communicateMake sure your (and your family’s) comments are helpfulnot hurtful.  
  • Focus on ability instead of appearance – preschool and elementary school-aged kiddos LOVE hearing about their accomplishments. When mentioning their bodies, or when you hear them use negative body talk, reframe the conversation to focus on what their body can do.  
Instead of  Try this 
“My/your legs are so big!’  
  • Your legs carry you through the worldYou can dance, runclimband jump 
  • My legs are perfect, they help me bend down to pick you up and take me for walks every day 
“My/your stomach is huge.”  
  • Thank you, tummyyou hold the food we eat together 
  • My tummy likes it when you tickle me!  
  • My tummy held you when you were a baby, it stretched so far because you grew so quickly! 
“My ___ looks awful!”  
  • Your body is unique in many ways. I don’t know anyone else like you! 
  • can be kind and gentle to myselfand you can too! 
“I don’t like the way I look.”   
  • hear you feel sadmaybe a little mad. What’s wrong 
  • Let’s think of all the things our bodies can do.  
  • It’s okay to feel different, you are still a good friend, a good listener, and very funny! Remember that joke you told me yesterday? 

The best part about these tools is that they apply to everyone, anytime. No matter the developmental level or engagement style, you can always tell your child how powerful they are, how important their body is, and how wonderful they are. 

Feel free to reach out to your Blue Bird team for more bodypositivity activitiesConnect with your child’s pediatrician and your Blue Bird Day dietitian if you suspect unhealthy food habits are interfering with your child’s ability to grow and develop.  

Wishing you a happy new year and a (body) positive outlook!  

Looking for more ideas on how to promote body-positivity? 

Check out our Blue Bird Day music videos to dance your way to a positive outlook. 

Shake Your Sillies Out
Going On A Bear Hunt
Freeze Dance

Blue Bird Day fosters socialization, sensory regulation, and pre-academic learning in children ages 2-7 years in therapeutic rotations that simulate  preschool and kindergarten settings. Our compassionate therapists practice a relationship-based and family-centered approach, provide parent training, and collaborate on goals and individualized intensive treatment plans for your child.

We believe in a collaborative and multi-disciplinary team approach to therapy. A team of occupational therapists, speech-language pathologists, dietitians, developmental therapists, behavioral therapists, physical therapists, and therapeutic assistants are created for each child to ensure child and family are fully supported and the best possible results are achieved.  

Options for individualized, group and virtual therapy sessions are available as well. 

Want to learn more or you have a specific question? Feel free to connect with us here! 

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