Teaching Our Kids to Love Their Bodies as We Struggle Loving Our Own

Hey y’all! It’s Jess again.

Today I’m going to go into something that I think is super important and definitely not talked about enough- body image. I know we think about our own body image all the time but that’s not really what I’m talking about- I’m talking about our kids seeing us. How do we make our kids feel more confident in their bodies when we aren’t comfortable in our own?

I have always struggled with my body. I have never been comfortable in my own skin. I know now that so much of that stems from my own childhood and experiences growing up.

If you’ve been keeping up with my blog posts, you know I am part of a Latinx family. Well, my family in particular loved to talk about bodies. “Te estas poniendo rellenita” meaning you’re filling up/getting chubby. “Estas muy flaca. Come más” meaning you’re too skinny. Eat more.

All. The. Time. To everyone.

I have found this to be a common theme with my other Latinx friends but I will not be so bold as to say that this is an issue in all Latinx families because all families are different.

Anywho, when I found out I was pregnant, I went above and beyond to train my brain so I would never speak badly about my body in front of my kid.

I didn’t want her to grow up with all the same insecurities I did. I set what I thought were realistic expectations for postpartum so I wouldn’t feel pressured to “bounce back.” To be honest, I didn’t feel that. I loved my body. I made a whole other human whom I am still in absolute awe of. It definitely helped that I had essentially “bounced back.”

Well, cut to two babies in under two years who both nurse and no free time ever, I am looking like a hot mess express pretty much all the time. Not doing great things for my confidence.

Still, I have worked hard to ensure my kids never hear me speak negatively about my body. I don’t always get it perfect but I try every day. These are some of the things that have worked for us:

  1. Pay attention to media. What are your kids watching? Getting nostalgic and wanting to watch a movie from your childhood? Watch it first and check for how they speak about bodies and food.
  2. Don’t speak poorly about your body. This includes- I need to work out, I shouldn’t eat that, I’m on a diet, I need to get skinny, My pants don’t fit anymore, My body isn’t what it used to be.” These all seem harmless but can lead to so much damage in a child without the understanding that just because my body isn’t what it used to be, doesn’t mean it’s not beautiful and powerful.
  3. Do speak positively about your body. This includes- I am so strong, I love to run, I like working out because I feel powerful, I love to eat different foods, My body is perfect.
  4. Books books books. Y’all already know I’m obsessed with books. Books about having positive self-image are incredible additions to any library.
  5. Create a good relationship with food. I am a huge believer that nobody should be forced to eat. Ever. Some days I eat enough for a small army and some days I only eat a sandwich, a smoothie, and fruit but it fills me up. We all have different days. Days where we want to eat everything we see and days where we don’t care too much for food.
  6. No “bad” foods. I totally get not spoiling dinner with a carton of ice cream but when we give dessert only if “you eat all your veggies” we are making veggie the obstacle (negative) to get to the prize (positive) thus reinforcing that ice cream or whatever other desserts you planned has a higher value and satisfaction quotient than say broccoli.
  7. Wear clothes you feel good in. I am so guilty of this. Especially during COVID because I hate shopping for myself. I hate buying bigger clothes for myself when I have all the intentions of losing weight. All this leads to is our kids watching us feel and look uncomfortable in our own clothes and as a result, our skin.
  8. Set realistic goals. If you want to lose weight, that’s totally okay. Trying to lose 10 lbs in a week is not realistic and can lead to harm when our kids see us starving ourselves and working so hard to get to a magic number. When trying to lose weight, it is best to try for more reasonable goals like one to two lbs a week so we feel inspired and are constantly reinforced by achieving goals that are within our reach.

Let’s be real- this has absolutely nothing to do with the number on the scale. I know that number has haunted many of us for years but now is the time to change that.

Let’s teach our kids to not care about a meaningless number. It does not measure our health or our worth. Do you feel good? Beautiful? Fit? Healthy? That is enough. The number is irrelevant.

You are beautiful. Your body is beautiful. Wear it with pride so your children can too.

What are some ways you discuss foods in a positive way? What are some of your favorite non-physical compliments to give your children? Most importantly, what’s your favorite thing about your body? Drop it in the comments and let’s spread some body positivity today.

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