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-   -   How to Encourage Positive Body Image and Self Esteem? (http://www.diaperswappers.com/forum/showthread.php?t=1484819)

GreenDahlia 01-24-2013 09:31 AM

How to Encourage Positive Body Image and Self Esteem?
 
As you can see from my siggy, I have 2 daughters.

My 3 year old has spiral curls, so just for fun the other day I straightened her hair.

She looked in the mirror, seemed upset, and said "Mommy why did you make me look like someone else? I want to look like the way I was posed to look."

Her comment took me by surprise. I don't want her to have my poor body image and self esteem. How can I encourage her to be less like me and to be content with the way she is?

happysmileylady 01-24-2013 10:44 AM

Re: How to Encourage Positive Body Image and Self Esteem?
 
This is one of the great questions of parenthood. The thing is, the answer is different for every child. And, even if you do everything right, there are still a large number outside influences that can sabatoge your efforts.

I would first like to make the distinction between positive body image and good self esteem. Postive body image is about the body and how it looks. Good self esteem is about feeling good about your whole self.

As for positive body image, I am not so sure that I want "body image" to be all that important. I mean, I want my kids to believe their bodies are good enough, but I also don't want them to think that how their body looks matters all that much. So I have tired to lead by example in that. I don't wear make up, because my face is good enough the way it is, and I don't need to "paint over it" so to speak, and I have talked to my daughter about that. I didn't even let her wear make up until she was 13, and explained exactly why. I also didn't allow talk about weight or weight loss around her for a LONG time. My mom is a little bit overweight, and has been on a constant quest to lose weight, but with intermittent actual efforts. When my daughter was like 6ish, she spent the day with my mom who was gung ho into another attempt to lose weight, looking up weight watchers points, measuring food, etc. And my daughter was helping her cook. And came home talking about wanting to lose weight. Now because she was overweight, but because grandma was doing it so it must be something to do. I had a talk with my mom, and really watched what EVERYONE said about losing weight, etc. Losing weight is SUCH a big deal in today's society, so many girls grow up thinking they have to lose weight, just because everyone else is doing it. I really tried to minimize that influence, as much as I could. I often wonder how much of women's issues with thinking they weigh too much come from how much everyone and everything focuses on trying to lose weight, vs actually being small. (if that makes sense.)

As for good self esteem, I have always tried to encourage paying attention to the good things she does. You don't have to praise everything, just show attention and appreciation. Those things go a long way towards helping teens grow up feeling good about themselves.

Having said all that, my teen STILL has a self esteem problem. Mostly, it comes from kids at school. She's not all that popular, she's smarter than average, and having grown up as an only child for so long, having been the only grandchild for so long, she's much more mature than most kids her age. So she gets teased a lot and it's hard for kids to ignore that stuff. BUT, I am learning that as they grow and mature, they also grow into their self esteem. She's 17 now, and while she still struggles, she is learning to also be confident and realistic in her own strengths and weaknesses. I sometimes wonder if many kids HAVE to go through periods of low self esteem so that when they build it back up, it's so much more real and genuine.

I dunno...I only have one teen girl right now. So, what works for your kids might be different.

Rhianna'sMommy 01-24-2013 10:53 AM

Re: How to Encourage Positive Body Image and Self Esteem?
 
Honestly, I think the best way to teach good self esteem and body image is to have good self esteem and body image yourself. Your girls will take their cues from you most likely.

Growing up, I don't remember my Mom every complaining about her looks or about herself. She rarely wore make up, dressed how she was comfortable, etc. As a result, I never questioned my looks, my clothes, my body, etc. My Mom never commented good or bad about my image - I was who I was.

I try to do the same with my girls. I exercise but when questioned, I do it to be healthy. While I am trying to lose some weight right now, I never tell my kids I am trying to lose weight. I just tell them I want to be as healthy as I can. I try to never talk down about myself, my clothes, my appearance. I want them to see I'm just fine the way I am (a fact I do believe). It is my hope that they will mimic my attitude.

Now, this method isn't perfect. This doesn't take different personailities into effect or the influence of friends. But it is a good start and I'll do more as needed. So far dd1 is a lot like me and is fine with who/what she is.

Dd1 likes to curl her hair sometimes but we don't do it to look better - we do it just for fun. I'd stop and talk to her if I thought she was equating good body image with what we do for fun. We don't curl her hair for special occations either - we are more likely to do it just because. If anything, I try hard to have her look like her normal every day self for pictures and stuff like that.

isabelsmummy 01-25-2013 01:46 PM

Re: How to Encourage Positive Body Image and Self Esteem?
 
I'm simillar to the previous poster.

My mom never once said anything about losing weight until I was in Gr12 when she went on a huge diet. She was never fat but just that 'mom' shape. I remember at the time saying that I was glad she hadn't done it sooner because her obsessive dieting would have made me neurotic. As it was, I could see it just as something she was doing and it was unrelated to me.

With my 2 dd's I hope to emphasize that activities and sports are just fun. They make us strong and healthy and it's fun. We live in a really outdoorsy type place so it's pretty easy. I bike to work and my 8yr old thinks it's just another method of transportation, not a big deal.

I'm sure every woman goes through times of body image issues but I think a big thing is having women around you who are NOT dieting!! I think this is really important. My friend who grew up with a mom on weight watchers is always on weight watchers herself... although I guess it goes without saying that mom needs to have healthy habits herself.

No guarantees. You do your best.

boysniris 01-25-2013 03:29 PM

Re: How to Encourage Positive Body Image and Self Esteem?
 
I think it probably varies from child to child.

My mom rarely wore make-up, didn't try to keep up with the latest fashions, didn't appear to be obsessed with her looks. She was pretty thin without much effort (more of a boyish figure type of woman I guess...not too curvy or buxom, or well-endowed IYKWIM). She encouraged us to exercise for HEALTH reasons, not for staying thin/attractive.

In theory, setting a great example?!

My mom is hard-pressed to hold her tongue about anything. I remember being 6 or 7, and she enrolled me in a ballet class w/the 3-4 year olds (since my skill level was brand-new-to-ballet). I felt like she was not a supportive parent, rather then encouraging me, she would comment on how graceful the OTHER little girls were. I didn't want to go to the class any more, partly b/c I sucked and felt like the awkward older weird kid who shouldn't be there, and partly b/c I felt bad hearing about the other kids doing so great, who were more flexible and more graceful than me. :blush:

When I started to need a bra, she teased me/embarrassed me about it. When I started styling my hair and wanting to wear make-up, she teased and/or criticized my choices. When I wanted to shave my legs etc, she said I didn't need to (I was 14 and starting high school). She didn't want me to wear make-up, or shave...I don't think she wanted me to grow up! When I wanted to wear nothing but black clothing, she said I was weird and looked bad etc. Looking back, yes my choices sucked most of the time :giggle: But why couldn't she just shut up about it?

I'm not obsessed with how I look, compared to some people. But it IS important to me. I like to wear make-up and dress nice, I don't feel like I have "natural beauty" or "natural grace". I generally feel negative about how I look, but not negative enough to do anything extreme about it.

I don't know if this is because of the things my mom said to me, or just because that's how I am, but I know that with MY boys (I don't have any girls) I'm not going to make fun of them or comment about how the other kids are better than them. At this point in my life, I can get along with my mom and be friendly, but we are not friends. I enjoy spending short periods of time with her, or talking about some of our common interests (gardening or sewing, for example) but that's about it. We don't do any "girl stuff" or any of the typical mother-daughter bonding things that I've read about.

My advice would be to compliment your children's positive attributes, avoid talking about other children's beautiful or wonderful whatevers, and try not to tease them about things that might be an area where they're insecure. I generally felt insecure about how I looked, so having my mom tease me about my choices didn't make me feel better about myself.

ProudCoastieWife 01-25-2013 04:31 PM

Re: How to Encourage Positive Body Image and Self Esteem?
 
Came across this today and remembered your post. It's from a blogger in my hometown and it addresses some of the issues you're facing. Hope this helps!

http://www.quadcitymomsblog.com/2013...-so-pretty-if/

lilannies mama 01-25-2013 04:46 PM

It sort of sounds like ( unless I'm taking your dd's tone wrong) that she doesn't have a poor self image of herself. You changed the way she looked by doing her hair different & she wanted to look like the her she already was. I'm like that to unless I made the decision to change my look I never wanted my mom to either. She may be independent & like her curls which is great. One of my friends has those spiral type curls & she was always wanting them gone. It just sounds like that to me though I could be totally wrong.

strongwoman 01-25-2013 04:56 PM

Re: How to Encourage Positive Body Image and Self Esteem?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by lilannies mama (Post 16206088)
It sort of sounds like ( unless I'm taking your dd's tone wrong) that she doesn't have a poor self image of herself. You changed the way she looked by doing her hair different & she wanted to look like the her she already was. I'm like that to unless I made the decision to change my look I never wanted my mom to either. She may be independent & like her curls which is great. One of my friends has those spiral type curls & she was always wanting them gone. It just sounds like that to me though I could be totally wrong.

Same thing i was thinking. Did you write your post wrong, because it sounds to me that she likes the way she looks, curls and all...

GreenDahlia 01-25-2013 06:51 PM

Re: How to Encourage Positive Body Image and Self Esteem?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by ProudCoastieWife (Post 16206037)
Came across this today and remembered your post. It's from a blogger in my hometown and it addresses some of the issues you're facing. Hope this helps!

http://www.quadcitymomsblog.com/2013...-so-pretty-if/

Thanks I'll check it out!

Quote:

Originally Posted by lilannies mama (Post 16206088)
It sort of sounds like ( unless I'm taking your dd's tone wrong) that she doesn't have a poor self image of herself. You changed the way she looked by doing her hair different & she wanted to look like the her she already was. I'm like that to unless I made the decision to change my look I never wanted my mom to either. She may be independent & like her curls which is great. One of my friends has those spiral type curls & she was always wanting them gone. It just sounds like that to me though I could be totally wrong.

Quote:

Originally Posted by strongwoman (Post 16206120)
Same thing i was thinking. Did you write your post wrong, because it sounds to me that she likes the way she looks, curls and all...

I didn't go into a lot of detail so I understand the confusion. Her comments made me realize how amazing she is and I don't want her to be affected by my feelings about myself...if that makes sense. It's more of a general question for the future than in regard to this situation.

NYCVeg 01-25-2013 07:35 PM

Re: How to Encourage Positive Body Image and Self Esteem?
 
I don't think there's an easy answer to this, particularly because there are so many outside influences that affect our kids. Some things we do:

1) Most important, model a positive self-image. I don't complain about my body or ask "does this make me look fat?" or things like that. I don't compare myself negatively to other women. We don't talk about dieting, or talk about other people's weight. We talk about food in terms of health, and don't label foods "good" or "bad." Personally, I don't wear makeup (although I'm not bashing anyone who does), and when dd has asked me about it, I've told her that I think that everyone looks nice just the way they are.

2) We keep fashion magazines and celebrity magazines out of the house. I don't want dd seeing those kinds of images and thinking that that's how women are supposed to look.

3) We tell her she's beautiful not only when she's dressed up or fancy, but also when she's working hard or sweaty or just hanging around. Of course, we try to focus our attention not on her looks but on other things--her creativity, her intelligence, her physical strength, etc.

4) We try to minimize the amount of advertising she's exposed to. We don't leave the TV on as background. Any shows that she's allowed to watch, she watches commercial-free on Netflix. If she's watching something like a sporting event with us, we mute the commercials so she's not so interested in them.


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