With all the media messages surrounding our children, it’s amazing that they grow up to be healthy. And children today are exposed to more media messages than ever before. They watch more television, see more music videos and advertisements and they play more video and computer games. It’s tough to develop a positive self-image when you’re constantly looking at perfection. It’s the job of parents to help their children feel good about themselves. Here are a few tips to help you navigate these often difficult waters.
#1 Be a good role model. There’s nothing harder on a child than hearing a parent berate themselves for the way they look. It’s important that parents at least put up a good front and demonstrate a positive self-image. Children learn by example. If you love your body and are content with the way you look, your child will be more likely to follow your example. They know they come from you and if you’re happy with your appearance, then they should be too.
#2 Show them reality. More and more models are standing up and saying, “We’re airbrushed.” They’re providing real life photos and allowing comparison to the magazine photos. This is a great teaching moment. Young children, girls and boys, look up to their role models. Help your children understand that what they see on television isn’t reality. It’s great lighting, professional make-up and clothing, plastic surgery, and little photography tricks called filters and airbrushing or editing.
Boys are just as much at risk as girls. Boys often worship or look up to professional athletes. It’s important to explain to boys that in addition to the magazine photos being emphasized, painted and airbrushed, many athletes take unnatural measures to achieve their physical results. These unnatural measures, like steroids or working out eight hours a day, are not normal or healthy.
#3 Help your child find what’s beautiful about them. We all likely have something we’d like to change. Maybe it’s our nose, our hair or our height. However, we also all have things we like about ourselves. Help your child find what they like about themselves. Maybe they like their eyes, or their smile, or their beautiful red hair. Help them focus on the positive things about themselves and to forget about the rest. No one is perfect and everyone is perfect just as they are.
When children can realize that they’re perfect exactly the way they are, they’ll grow up to be strong and confident adults. They’ll be able to manage the occasional bumps and bruises to their ego because they know that deep down, they’re beautiful.