7 min read

Helping your child develop a positive body image

- Challenging negative messages from the media

Illustration of two children looking at each other
  • Body image is what we think and feel about our bodies, and how we feel other people see us.

    Having a positive body image comes from feeling good about what your body can do, and how it feels. It doesn’t come from having a perfect body – no one does.

    Having a negative body image shows up in all sorts of different ways. Your child could worry about:

    • Their size, their skin colour, the condition of their skin (freckles, scars, eczema, acne and birthmarks)
    • Individual parts of their body - are they “right”?
    • How good they are at sports and physical activities especially compared with other children
    • If clothes fit or suit them
    • If they look like the images they see on TV, in movies, magazines or online.

    Most children have some of these worries from time to time. But if they are thinking about them all the time it can affect their mental health and lead to feelings of anxiety, depression and low self-esteem. If it grows into deep worry or shame, it can start to affect how they join in with things or how they eat.

  • Supporting your child to make sure they develop positive body image is not easy!

    We all have very different bodies – but our society doesn’t respect that very well. The media feeds us a ‘norm’ of what a perfect body looks like – it's really hard to get away from. And with social media it’s harder for our children than for any generation before.

    The story the media tells gets carried into our homes, family gatherings and playgrounds before we know it. Children as young as four years old can start to have worries about body image.

    Many children – and many of us as parents – judge themselves and others against these fictional standards – and the pressure to fit in grows.

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