All parents want to prepare their children for the world and hope that they grow into wonderful, happy, and successful adults. A chunk of this future (and current) happiness is ensuring that they have a positive self-image. Throughout our lives, a positive self-image can have incredibly positive effects, not only on our mental well-being, but also our physical well-being and interpersonal relationships. As well, the healthier our mental health is can improve our lives in all aspects—relational, professional, social, and everything in between. We can all clearly agree that having this positive view of ourselves is crucial to have and grow in our children, but what are practical ways to make this happen?
This is probably the easiest and most obvious tip. If somebody you love is constantly telling you how awesome you are, you will most likely believe it yourself. If your child decided to wear an outfit that makes them feel good (even if it objectively looks a little on the crazy side), tell them how wonderful they look and how much you love their creativity when it comes to their wardrobe! Did they try a new hairstyle? Compliment the heck out of that expression of themselves! Have you ever been having an off-day, and then somebody compliments you, and it boosts your mood? Try to do that with your children every day.
Encourage Positive Role Models
Think about the people who surround yourself with, and ask yourself if these are people who encourage positivity in themselves and those around them. If the answer is yes, that’s great! Do the same self-reflection when you think about the types of media you expose your children to. Do the shows they watch embody the types of self-image you want them to have? The same with books—there are so many great body-positive and overall- positive self-image books available. Ensuring that there are many body types represented in your library of books, movies, and TV shows is crucial to the quest for self-love.
Have you ever started your day by looking in the mirror and telling yourself what you love about yourself? If you have never done this, try it and see if you don’t feel like an amazing person for the rest of the day. This is a great way for kids and adults alike to start their days off on the right foot, and a great way to reinforce self-love to ourselves. Take turns every morning saying something good about yourself in the mirror as you get ready for school and work, and eventually, it will become second nature.
Teach Through Your Actions
At the end of the day, the most important way to teach our children a healthy self-image is by modeling it ourselves. This can be difficult for many of us because of years of subliminal messaging in our society, but the more we show ourselves grace and love, the more our children will do the same. Just as the way kids will grab onto a slipped swearword and repeat it, they will repeat us looking into the mirror and saying that we hate our thighs. However, if they see us looking in the mirror and saying, “Dang, I look good today, ready to kill the day!”—that is the energy they will manifest in their being as they grow.