You want your child to be healthy and strong, but you don’t want them to obsess about what their bodies look like. Can you encourage health without encouraging a focus on appearance? Yes! The answer is body-positive parenting.
Jan Floyd, MD, says modeling a healthy lifestyle is more important than anything you could say to kids about diet or fitness. “This is not only true for eating habits and active living but also spills into healthy habits such as limiting your use of electronics, maintaining a strong work ethic, having good sleep habits, showing kindness to others and using your time wisely,” said the Hopkinsville-based pediatrician.
To teach kids about the importance of a healthy body, don’t start with confusing topics such as reducing the risk of heart disease or diabetes. Instead, focus on being strong with plenty of energy. Help your children understand that being healthy leads to feelings good. “All of these benefits are linked to daily exercise and eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, dairy products and lean meats,” Dr. Floyd said.
And don’t forget to practice self-acceptance: Don’t criticize your own body in front of your children – or at all!