Kids. They are under the table, behind the couch and under your feet all the time. And we love that about them (well, most of the time). But as we joke about how they are ALWAYS there we need to remember one more thing – THEY ARE ALWAYS LISTENING!
What does that mean? Well, it means exactly that – they are ALWAYS listening. Listening to the radio you are playing, listening to the TV you have on, listening to you and your spouse talking about finances, and listening to you tell your friends you are fat and need to lose weight.
We all live in the same world. The world that promotes lean, thin, tall beauties and muscular, six-packed men. These ideals have height, muscle tone, straight teeth and perfect skin. Their hair is never a mess and their clothes always look great. Of course, someone does their makeup, picks out their clothes, and they spend time and money on their teeth and skin. So…it’s a lot to compete with. So while we, as adults, have learned to be happy with ourselves (for the most part), most of us continue our quest for that weight we find ideal for us. Maybe its to get into your favorite jeans or the dress you wore on your last vacation with just your husband. Maybe it is simply to wear your pre-pregnancy clothes. Whatever it is, you are likely now, or at one time, on a quest to do something to improve your body. Maybe you are dieting. Maybe you are toning. Whatever it is, you are on a mission. Well, as you talk about it…YOUR KIDS ARE LISTENING!!!!
In this day and age, it is becoming more and more common for children, at much earlier ages, to have body image issues.
“According to a study announced in February 2014 from the National Institute on Media and the Family, about 40 percent of girls ages nine and ten have tried to lose weight. Four out of every ten girls…”
And this isn’t just about girls. Your boys are having record number of body images issues at an early age as well. So when your kids hear you talk about your body – that you are “fat” or about you hating your hair, they hear you. They are listening and then they are scrutinizing themselves.
My own 9 year old has asked me several times about her looks and her clothes and her hair. “Mommy, am I pretty?” This isn’t just a child wanting affirmation of your love and adoration. This is a preteen looking at her body and comparing it to all the models on TV and magazine models and thinking that she doesn’t look the same. My 4 year old boy asked me if he needed muscles like daddy. We think it’s cute that our little men flex their arms in the mirror and point to where the muscles will be someday and talk about how strong they are. But are they already thinking “hey, where are those muscles that should be there, is there something wrong with me?”
Though there is no easy solution, it is simply important to be conscious of what we are saying around our kids. We don’t need to further encourage what our kids are already inundated with. And it’s vital to have open communication with your children about a healthy body image. And remember – THEY ARE ALWAYS LISTENING so be sure to practice what you preach and try to have a healthy body image and do not obsessively participate in negative talk.