by Andie Vasquez

How are you talking to your children about their bodies? Perhaps a bigger question is how do
your children hear you talk about your own body?


Children absorb everything they see, hear, touch, and experience. Do they see, hear and
experience a positive body image? I know many of us struggle with our body image and it can
be hard to impart positivity to our children. We may not even realize what kind of imagery we
are giving them.


But consider this: in 2016 the Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years released a
study they had done on body image in children. They found that childcare workers reported that
they had seen 24% of children as young as 3 years old showing dissatisfaction with their
bodies. Yes, you read that right, 3 years old. By the time they were ages 6-11 that number
jumped to 47%. Teachers have also shared their concern with elementary age students
attempting to go on diets to lose weight. 11 years old and younger trying to go on diets.
I’m going to give parents the benefit of the doubt and guess most of them aren’t telling their
children they are fat and ugly. But kids are getting these ideas from somewhere. They are
absorbing this mindset from someplace.


Some of it may be unavoidable. Diet culture screams at us in the grocery aisles and from ads on
TV. I don’t know if its possible to avoid it entirely. But you can control how to speak to yourself
and your children. Do they hear you degrade yourself while looking in the mirror? Are you on
and off this diet and that one? What is your relationship with food? How do you stay active? Is
your sole reason for exercise to lose weight? All of these things we may not be paying attention
to, our children are very much noticing.

Some of it may be unavoidable. Diet culture screams at us in the grocery aisles and from ads on

TV. I don’t know if its possible to avoid it entirely. But you can control how to speak to yourself

and your children.

-Andie


For me, my biggest struggle is how I treat my own self and my own body image. I’d never groan
at my children and mumble about the size of their clothes, but I have done that to myself.
Children notice that and absorb it as normal and so begin to do it to themselves. If you force
yourself to be small to make yourself feel beautiful, your children are going to absorb that even if
you never say that directly to them. I’ve made a point of referring to food as fuel for our bodies
and avoided terms like “good” and “bad” in attempt to give them a healthy relationship with food.
I’ve still caught myself however sighing as I eat a cupcake and saying, “ugh, I should not eat
this” or “this is going straight to my thighs”. In this regard, kids definitely follow more of what we
do and less of what we say.

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If you’re like me, you don’t want to pass down your insecurities to your children. The thought of
unconsciously doing it scares me a little. It takes an active conscious effort to not pass it on. Its
a challenge to put in that effort, but its a challenge worth taking up.