As Early as 3?
At what age does the notion of body image begin to impact us?
I recently read a very disturbing article regarding children as young as 3 years old wanting to be thin. A small study by lead researcher Jennifer Harriger of Pepperdine University in Malibu, California suggests that when given a choice, even while playing a game, preschoolers would choose to be thin, rather than average or fat.
(See the article: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/40237437/ns/health-kids_and_parenting/)
As a mom and grandmother, this particularly concerns me and makes me more determined to do more to help the next generation develop healthy body images.
This article only further drives home the point that it is important to have a healthy body image at all ages.. This is why I encourage others to focus on health and not weight. Here are some suggestions to help parents. I have mentioned them before in previous posts.
What can parents do?
- MODEL healthy eating. The best way to teach good nutrition is of course modeling it by eating healthy without modeling restrictive eating. So, most nutritionists suggest that we all eat a wide variety of foods and that we not tell kids that foods are either “good” or “bad.”
- Exercise together as a family, even if it is just walking or bike riding.
- Don’t focus on a child’s appearance; rather find ways to compliment their other good deeds: are they a good student, a kind person, good at music or other talents?
- Eat at least one meal a day with your children.
- Don’t tease children about their weight.
At the end of the day, our society and we as parents, grandparents, teachers an anyone who wants to improve the health of young girls and boys must start to reflect to them a healthier way of seeing themselves that is not just focused on appearance!