Body image is the way an individual perceives his own body. With today’s standard of a perfect body, it can be difficult for parents to encourage kids to develop a healthy body image. When children frequently see images of models and celebrities having bodies considered as perfect in this day and age, they may mistakenly think that there must be something wrong with their own bodies. If a child develops an unhealthy body image, it can greatly affect his self-esteem, and he may also be at risk for developing eating disorders later in life.

With unhealthy body images, children may resort to excessive dieting just to have that ideal body. According to studies, young girls aged 10 to 14 years old have already started dieting. While media can help mold a child’s perception of his body image, it is never too late for parents to use the same tool in showing kids inaccurate campaigns, as well as those that promote a healthy body image. Monitor what your kids watch on television, and make sure that you properly address negative images.

In promoting healthy eating habits, parents need to clearly emphasize that the goal is to stay healthy, and not to be thin. They should very well know that there are more important things than one’s physical appearance. Children should know that one’s personality, talents and skills are far more important than what meets the eye.

Parents should also help children understand tat there is no perfect or ideal body shape. It is important for kids to know that it is normal for their bodies to change, as they go through different stages of growth and development. Avoid stereotypes and don’t be so critical of your own appearance, or even other people’s appearance for that matter.

Children will always look up to their parents, and it is crucial that you play your part well in showing kids that they can still feel good about themselves, even if they don’t have that perfect body. Model the right eating behavior, and don’t crash diet. Let your child know that crash dieting is not ideal, and that there are better ways to stay healthy. Help your kids understand that the goal to staying healthy is not really about looking like their favorite fashion icons.

Make exercise fun for the entire family, and encourage your kids to be involved in preparing healthy meals at home. In promoting healthy habits, try to make it fun for the entire family. Do not let your children think of exercise as a hard way to shed off excess pounds. They should rather view exercise as an enjoyable physical activity, which can promote overall health and well-being.

Try to maintain open communication lines with your children, and never fail to discuss any complaints that a child makes regarding his appearance. It may also help if parents check with a child’s school, whether they also take measures in promoting a healthy body image in children. Peer influence and bullying can put a child at risk for developing a poor body image. And parents need to act accordingly when they suspect that a child is having similar problems at school.

Developing a healthy body image in children may be a long journey. And along the way, many circumstances may influence a child’s views about his appearance. Always be supportive, and seek help when necessary. Many children may get into fad diets or unhealthy eating patterns for the wrong reasons. Thus, parents need to make sure that a healthy body image is promoted early on, so that kids are free to explore their potential, without having to worry too much about how they look.