Children adopt body image attitudes from parents, expert says
Parents ought to pay more attention to the messages they send to their kids about body image, an expert says.
Dr. Aaron Krasner, director of the adolescent transitional living program at Silver Hill Hospital in New Canaan, Conn., asserts that parents tend to forget how their words, feelings and thoughts are projected onto their kids.
"'We make the weather in our homes,' a wiser-than-me parent once told me," Krasner said in a press release. "I think it's true – especially when it comes to eating behaviors and body image. As parents, we must be mindful of our own relationship with our bodies, how we eat, and the potential impact on our kids."
Researcher offers tips for parents
According to the National Eating Disorders Association, 80 percent of 10-year-old children are afraid of being fat, but Krasner says that parents can help combat these fears. Here are some of his tips:
- Avoid negative comments. Don't criticize yourself in front of your kids about your weight or shape, and don't make negative comments about food. Statements like, "I can't eat potatoes because they're carbs," sends the wrong message about nutrition and health, Krausner said.
- Give praise. Give children positive strokes about their talents and achievements, not about how they look. Additionally, explain to your kids that changes in weight or body shape are a normal part of growing up.
- Talk about unrealistic standards. Let your children know that what they see in the media represents about 5 percent of what "normal" people actually look like, Krausner says.
"At the end of the day, parents are the most influential role models in a child's life, so be mindful of your words and actions," Krasner said. "They may be listening when you least expect it."
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