My body is my business. How to talk with children about physicality and beauty?


When kids and teens start bombarding their parents with questions about their bodies, it’s rare for an adult to be taken aback. And indeed, how can you correctly answer a child to a series of unexpected questions: “Mom, do I need to lose weight?”, “Why do I have such short legs?”, “Why does Masha have a beautiful nose, and I have like potatoes?”.

First of all, it is necessary to find out why the son or daughter had such an opinion. Maybe someone told him this or he heard it somewhere? Why is he so sure these words are true?

What is natural is not ugly

The body is also unfamiliar territory for many adults. What can we say about children who have only recently begun to explore the world?

Mass culture has given rise to many taboos and so-called «ideals» that do not have a great effect on our perception of ourselves. It is more difficult for children to cope with this, because they still do not know what was imposed on them from the outside, and what they came to on their own. What parent wouldn’t be surprised if a high school kid suddenly wants to go on a strict diet or pluck out thick eyebrows?

A healthy attitude towards our body, which nature has given us, is very important. The more adequate the child’s attitude to the issues of corporality, the less complexes, discontent and feelings he has. But it is from them that aggression, depression, anxiety disorders and neuroses most often grow. Therefore, it is important to talk about the body with children at any age.

What is «body positivity» and why is it important in today’s world

On the pages of magazines and on the Internet, you can increasingly see the word “body positivity”. Someone scolds this phenomenon, not even knowing what lies at its basis. Meanwhile, body positivity is the key to a healthy self-image.

Body positivity is a movement that explicitly states: «A person has the right to any body.» Nobody and nothing can tell you how you should look. Your happiness does not depend at all on the width of the waist, weight, eye color, the presence of birthmarks or height. No one has the right to judge or mock you for not conforming to someone else’s idea of ​​beauty.

It is especially important to nurture a “body positive” attitude in children. So they will understand that the body of any person, and his body in particular, can be anything. We are all different, not like anyone else — and that’s great!

Basic rules for talking about the body

How to talk with a child about the body and appearance, so that he develops a healthy self-esteem and the right attitude towards the appearance of other people? Useful communication principles will help.

  • Do not judge other people’s appearance and do not criticize your own appearance. The phrases “I’m fat”, “I have a terrible figure”, “I have tiny piggy eyes” can lead to the fact that the child, following the parental example, will begin to look for problems in himself.
  • Stop talking about appearance as a value. Do not overpraise someone else’s appearance, forming a child’s interest in beauty standards (thin waist, small leg size, plump lips). Teach your kids that looks don’t define who they are.
  • Warn your child that not everyone is able to share his opinion. There are many people in society who can behave aggressively when it comes to someone else’s appearance. Teach your children that people can have completely different points of view, but judgment is unacceptable.
  • Explain that newspapers, magazines, programs, news, articles on the Internet often form the wrong attitude of people towards the body. They can impose their ideals and standards. Tell me that many images (for example, the desire for model thinness) should not be transferred to real life.
  • Show children the diversity of the world. Photos of people of different races, physiques, physical abilities — all this helps the child to understand that all people are unique.
  • Answer all the child’s questions, discuss his fears (“I am growing more slowly than my friends”, “I have wider shoulders than other boys”). If you can’t give an answer right away, turn to thematic books or blogs with verified and safe information.
  • Teach your child to see food as a source of nutrition, not as an enemy. Try not to use the words «bad», «fat», «harmful», «disgusting» and do not scold your child for wanting to eat chips or a hot dog.

The intimate side of the body

It is impossible to exclude from conversations about corporality and the intimate side, because the topic of attitude to one’s body goes next to the topic of sex education.

Already at an early age, it is worth mentioning questions of physiology in conversations with a child. It is important to explain to kids how boys differ from girls physically. In this case, it is better to use not diminutive substitute words, but neutral medical terms.

Taboos on such topics can form in children the opinion that any intimate manifestations are something dirty or shameful. But, according to psychologists, the earlier a child is involved in such natural cognition, the more adequately he perceives gender differences, especially during puberty.

Moreover, such conversations are the basis of children’s safety. The child begins to build boundaries, realize his integrity, form a respectful attitude towards people and their body: he will learn to say “no” or warn when he feels uncomfortable.


Добавить комментарий