5 Tips For Encouraging Body Positivity In Children

A few years ago I wrote a post about inherited self image, and how as a mother I am able to impact the way my children see themselves in the future. As happens, the children are a few years older now, and over recent weeks, things that fall under the umbrella of ‘body positivity’ have started coming up again.

I know that over the years, my thoughts on a few parenting ideals have changed, softened or simply been outgrown, so I wanted to revisit body positivity to not only see how I have been doing, compared to my earlier ideals, but also whether there are changes I need to make, or situations I need to prepare for as my girls enter their early inbetween years.

Below are some of the ways we can encourage positive body and self-image.

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Friday Feature: ‘Monday Morning Coffee’ And ‘Kitchen Witch’

Monday Morning Coffee is a simply gorgeous blog. It’s pretty much a photo journal of the kind that makes me want to retake the photography course I did about ten years ago.  Her pictures evoke emotion. They are bits of art, each and every one.  Reading – or watching – Monday Morning Coffee unfold is like reading the pages of someone’s diary, but without guilt, because they’ve handed it to you. It’s beautiful and peaceful. It’s a privilege to be invited in.

Jenni has a large family and step family (five kids from baby to 17 year old!), many of whom have food intolerances and allergies, so when my gluten and dairy free friend comes to visit, you’ll find me perusing MMC for a recipe for our dinner!

Monday Morning Coffee is still quite a young blog, started in August last year, with a small following, but deserving of a larger one. I highly recommend that you visit this website – you’ll leave feeling like you’ve just had coffee with a friend.

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Kitchen Witch is an incredible blog that I’ve been a silent reader of for a very long time. Joni Rae is an awesomely talented woman – you can see that in her blog design and creative doodles. She is also a passionate activist in a number of arenas – like breastfeeding – and speaks with a fervour and intensity that makes you sit up and listen.

Joni is also deeply honest about her life, her past, her depression and her battle with body image. She also doesn’t mind standing up for her beliefs in the face of possible criticism. For example, there are many in the AP circles that don’t believe in praising children too much, and many have written on the ‘dangers’ of ‘good job!’ But Joni tells her kids when she thinks they’re doing a good job. (I do too. And I tell my daughter she’s beautiful… daily!)

But once in a while?  A kid just wants to say “Look what I can do!” and stand on their hands before they run off to play again.  That’s when a “that’s fantastic!  Great job!” is all they are asking for.  A quick stamp of approval.  A small bit of praise that conveys “I acknowledge what you are showing me and it is awesome!”  They aren’t looking for a long-winded “I love the way you placed your hands on the floor and the way you are able to hold you body so straight! You are very strong!” because that would cut into whatever game is in play in the backyard.

I agree wholeheartedly. When my child says ‘look mama, at what I can do’, it’s her way of making sure I’m still paying attention to her, still conscious of her and still ‘with’ her, even if I’m busy with something else.

Joni’s husband weighs in on this by saying:

Good job to a five year old is the equivalent of a quick ‘I love you’ to a grown up.  We don’t have to wax poetic about the depth and breadth of our love, we just want to acknowledge that it is there.  Do these same people not want their spouse or partner to say “I love you” before they hang up the phone or turn over to go to sleep at night? ‘Good job’ is a quick snapshot, a verbal thumbs up.

It was a real relief to me, to find someone else in the AP society who doesn’t have a problem with praising her children.

Kitchen Witch is a Pagan blog, so our belief systems are different, but our styles of raising our children, our belief in nature and in doing the best for our families are so similar, that I feel an affinity with Joni Rae, and a little bit of envy at how beautiful she is able to make her corner of the web.