Let’s put the concept of perfection out the window. What is “perfect” anyway? Children and teens need to understand that we all have blemishes, flaws and imperfections and what we see in the media, television and magazines is not the real picture. They need to know that that there is more to beauty than our appearance and looks and we all have a unique, individual sense of beauty within ourselves.
Parents play a vital role in helping their children build their self-acceptance, self-worth and identity and fight the challenges of body image. Children need to feel acknowledged and heard, while feeling a sense of security to talk and communicate about their emotions and feelings. They need to be heard and listened without being judged or criticised. For example, “tell me what has happened today for you to feel sad?” is something that invites children to communicate about their feelings and emotions.
It is so easy to focus on our negatives without acknowledging our positives. So often we get caught up in the “shoulds” of what to look like and be, forgetting about what we actually already have. Children are the same. Empower your children to realise their unique strengths, interests and values by focusing on their attributes that have nothing to do with their physical appearance. Highlight their positive qualities and acknowledge that we all have weaknesses and flaws.
Parents are role models and need to be aware of the messages and values they convey at home. Your children pay attention to what you say and do, no matter how big or small. Think about the messages you send to your children and question how this might be impacting on their evaluation of themselves. With this growing concern in our community we all need to think about how to best encourage our children to be themselves and be accepting of who they are.