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Teach Your Children Positive
Self-Image Through Fitness
Raising a pre-teen or teenage
daughter (or son) is not easy and can cause any parent a lot of stress.
There's so much to worry about - dating, drugs, alcohol, sex, school
grades, just to name a few. But one
crucial element often gets overlooked until it manifests itself in extreme ways
(like through an eating disorder). I?m talking about self-image. It's
extremely important that parents ensure that their children have a positive
self-image, especially in relation to their body.
The key to ensuring strong
self-esteem and a positive body image starts with the parent. If you don't
feel positive about your self-image, then how can you expect your children to?
While this is important for both daughters and sons, it is especially critical
for raising a healthy daughter. And beginning the lessons when a girl is young
is imperative, so don't wait until it's too late - teaching your daughter
to feel good about her body needs to start at a very young age.
Eating disorder experts say
girls are developing eating disorders as young as 5 and 6 years old. And a
recent study indicated that 70% of the sixth-grade girls they surveyed said they
began worrying about their weight between ages 9 and 11. Why are so many young
girls thinking that they are fat? Many are obsessing about their weight because
they have parents who are preoccupied with their own poor body images.
While the statistics are
disheartening, the good news is that there's a lot that can be done to help
our children have positive self-images. And, even small changes that parents
make can help. Here are few tips to help your children avoid warped and negative
a "no diet talk" rule. When your children are nearby, DON't talk about
dieting or how fat you feel! This is extremely important. Remember, kids are
listening all the time (even when you think that they aren't -
especially then). So, even though asking your spouse or friend "do I look
fat in this?" may seem innocent, it can have a life-altering effect on
your kids when they repeatedly hear it.
aren't the only adults that influence their children. Set the "no diet
talk" rule mentioned above for all adults that are around your children.
This means you shouldn't allow your friends, parents, siblings, neighbors,
or anyone else to talk about being fat or being on a diet when they are
around your children.
a good example. If your children never see you engage in fitness or if they
hear you complain about working out, then they are going to have a negative
image of exercise. Let them know that you workout to stay healthy, to be
strong and to have more energy and stamina (so you can keep up with them)!
your kids involved in sports. Experts say that playing sports really helps
build confidence and improves self-esteem (especially for girls).
your children to include physical activity as part of their daily routine.
But don't force them to exercise. Make sure that the physical activity is
seen as something fun to do rather than teaching them to think of exercise
as a necessary evil. Good activities include taking a nightly family walk,
turning off the t.v. and instead turning music on that you all can dance to,
or taking a weekend family bike ride.
to prepare (or if you are short are time purchase) healthy meals. And teach
them the importance of good nutrition. Don't let them have the
misconception that there are "good" and "bad" foods. If a kid thinks
that candy is a "bad" food, then naturally they will just want it more.
Just try to encourage your kids to eat a balanced diet each day and to eat
sugary or fatty foods in moderation.
Remember that something as
small as talking about losing weight in front of your kids can have very
detrimental effects on their self-image as they age. Damaging behavior learned
from a parent at a young age can take years for a child to overcome. So, the
sooner you start incorporating the tips above into your life, the better for you
child. But don't forget that it has to start with you - make sure that you
are incorporating healthy fitness and eating rituals into your daily routine and
that you have a positive body image (no matter what your size or shape is)!
Lynn Bode offers her personal
training services online through her company,
WorkoutsForYou.com. Workouts For You provides even the
busiest of parents affordable, personalized exercise programs (via
the Internet) for losing weight, toning-up, building muscles &
increasing stamina. The programs can be done on their schedule and in
the comfort of their own home (or gym or on-the-road). Visit
for a FREE sample workout.
If you would like to publish
this article in print or electronically, please contact Lynn at firstname.lastname@example.org
About the author: Lynn Bode is a certified personal trainer specializing in
Internet-based fitness programs. She founded Workouts For You, which
provides affordable online exercise programs that are custom designed for
each individual. Visit: http://www.workoutsforyou.com for a free sample
workout and to sign-up for their monthly fitness newsletter. Fitness
professionals, visit: http://www.trainerforce.com
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