4 tips for teaching little (& big) people body confidence.

20120925 102039 4 tips for teaching little (& big) people body confidence.

our bodies be amazing!

The older I become the more I realize life is cyclical.

When I was younger I EXPECTED my body to perform on command—and usually it did.

These days when my bod complies I stop, take note and appreciate.

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pause for applause!

I *long* to pass this body confidence on to the Tornado and yet—while it’s a huge priority—I pretty much fly by the seat pants fancy tights.

I strive each day to beat back the influence of peers/pop culture & model for her how to look inside herself for validation/approval.

It was easier when she was younger.

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Look mama! I. Awesome!

 

Yet the fact she still adores her body for the amazing vessel it is feels like a victory.

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she’s her own superhero…for now.

Youve emailed, facebooked, texted, tweeted, & direct messaged me for tips and, while Ive insisted I possess none, I shall share my Tips Which Really Arent.

All four of them.

My “pants flying praying for Tornado body confidence” distilled to four confusing, muddled easy to grasp items:

Four tips for teaching children body confidence:

 

  •  Try new things with your body.  When the Tornado was younger all she cared about was I’d play.  She didnt notice how “good” or “bad” I was at our games.  Now she notices and Ive harnessed this “noticing” to my advantage.  She recognizes when Im exiting my comfort zone (hello SCOOTERING), she sees when I struggle & fail, she watches as I laugh/try again, and she encourages me to take on new challenges.  

 

 

  • Practice what you long to preach…and theres no need to say a word.  This is the logical extension of the above yet took me YEARS to realize.  Whether you think the little person OR BIG PERSON in your life notices model the behavior you wish them to mimic.  Try new things & *loudly* acknowledge how fab they felt/what you learned about your body.  Attend your first zumba class and realize you are INDEED as AWKWARD as you’d surmised?  Seize the opportunity to share how youd always taken for granted how powerful & natural you feel when you run.

 

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they mimic. they mimic.

 

  • Allow your child(ren) to struggle.  This has been a challenge.  I know, however, if I dont let her struggle she’ll never emerge the other side confident in what her body can do. Recently this has been with soccer (you can do it!! I know you can get the ball!!) & her pride after pushing herself/learning her body was stronger than she’d thought was palpable.  Im aware these challenges will increase as she gets older & I know she needs to learn how powerful her body is now to get through.  My telling her is merely hollow praise.

 

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This took repeated attempts.

 

  • SHED THE SCALE.  Yes all caps.  Yes I feel strongly about this. YES YES YES.  I shed the scale 19 years ago & never returned.  As with negative self-talk obsessive weighing is something kids see and emulate. Im aware this is a controversial tip (for many the scale is a healthy tool in the arsenal) yet if daily-weighing is part of your routine Id suggest doing so at the gym etc. Dont model frequent scale-checks for your child who may not yet be able to grasp the “just a tool” concept.

 

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use pants as a nonscale check-in?

 

These tips are only whats worked for our misfit-trio (Im not sure you want to raise a child who believes tiny home scales are “steppers to the shower.” seriously. it’s a little weird).

And you?

whats your best tip for teaching/modeling body confidence to the little and big people in your life?

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Comments

  1. says

    Practice what you long to preach is huge!! Your actions speak louder than words! We have to exude self confidence and self love ourselves, and our children will grow up knowing and admiring what that is. Awesome post, Miz!

  2. says

    I laughed when you said you felt awkward at Zumba but strong and natural at running as I am totally the opposite! I have always danced, but I have started trying to run and it feels very unnatural. And it makes my hips and shins and ankles ache, too. Other exercise only hurts my muscles.

    I do weigh myself every day and I have a nine-year old daughter (and a six-year old son) who is her ideal weight. We discuss how it is unhealthy to be overweight and how I need to lose a bit of my stomach fat to be healthier and to reverse my pre-diabetes. We enjoy shows like Biggest Loser but talk about everything in terms of how the trainers are helping these people get fitter and healthier. I personally am quite fascinated by the whole weight-loss process but I do try hard to frame it in a positive way to my children.

  3. says

    My girls think they are both fashion ninja princess superheros. I didn’t have to teach them that. I just tell them daily that they are smart, strong, beautiful, and to work hard. It seems to be sticking in their minds. :)

  4. says

    I think kids love it when we try things we aren’t good at — especially if they are, which often is the case for playground skills!

  5. says

    I remember struggling with body image when I grew up. Having the old fashioned parents I had, they didn’t understand to teach me things like this. At 32 I am finally comfortable with my body and how to,keep it healthy! I hope to be a stellar mom like you!

  6. says

    Great post. I’ve always believed that children are like sponges and absorb everything and think that walking the talk is really important. Being healthy around food and moving our bodies in any way we can etc…

    Deb

  7. says

    I love this post!! Even though I have 2 boys (and they don’t always have the same body issues) I still want them to know how much their bodies are capable of! My youngest struggled for a couple of years and called himself fat. He wasn’t but in his mind (and compared to many of his buddies) he was. We just focused on being active and providing healthy meals without ever making him feel singled out. And, as he has gotten taller, he has stretched out! Now he loves to take on little fitness challenges!
    Thanks for the great tips – love that 4 covers pretty much everything!!

  8. Vonnie says

    I love the POGO fail.
    I know as a mom I’ve grown too cautious and don’t fail enough.

    Good point.

  9. says

    The mimic thing is so true. when i taught 5th grade I saw it a lot in my little girls. they would say things about their bodies, weight etc that i KNOW they heard from mama saying it as she looked at herself in the mirror etc. and it made me so sad.

  10. Sarah says

    This makes me really sad as I see it in my daughter already.
    She mimics my body hatred and I don’t know where to even start.

    I can not throw out the scale (It is my lifeline) but I can internalize my negative talk.

    :(

    • Miz says

      more after the crazy one is at school—but I wanted to just add IT IS NEVER TOO LATE!!
      anything you choose to do starting today is a gift to her—and you.

      xo

  11. says

    I just love love love this, ESPECIALLY the part where you don’t let your kids see you weigh, often. Never had any body confidence growing up, I actually had quite the opposite. I just adore ALL of the pictures of tornado in this post!

  12. says

    I totally get this and appreciate the tips you share!

    Progress is not measured by how much you weigh but yet, how you feel both inside and out.

    The scale should not influence or define confidence in ourselves or in children.

    Great post Miz!

    xo

    • says

      As for your other tips (I seem to have only commented about one of them), let kids be kids. Be a positive role model and give children the opportunity to learn and try new things – even if it means for them to ‘struggle’ so that they can in fact emerge and be confident in what their bodies can do :)

  13. says

    It’s funny — not clown funny, but ironic funny, was discussing this with my 22 year old tornado last night.

    I (re)explained to her that my goal was never to raise a happy or well adjusted child. Childhood is finite, and passes quickly.

    My goal was to raise happy, well adjusted adult. Her adulthood would be limited only be her death.

    I gave her a great deal of wiggle room as a child so she could learn lessons which would carry her into adulthood. This wiggle room included body image, temper, and social relationships.

    All I ever asked of her was that she make a study of her mistakes.

    If you can raise a child to look at herself from the outside — even just occasionally, she will be a much better pilot when her own plane takes off.

    Seems to me, you are going n EPIC job of that!

  14. says

    I love this Carla!! I wish I knew this when the stepgirls were growing up BUT sending to them since they have kids now… never too late even though some are in early teens… I wish I had this when I was young since I grew up with so many many insecurities from what I saw around me.

    You are amazing!

    I LOVE those pants you have on in that last pic!

  15. says

    Love this post. She is so adorable so confident and proud. Every day we just do our best and hope/pray/stress that we are doing the best for our children. I totally think the most important one of the four is the practice what you preach so so important! They see everything like tiny little sponges. Love her superhero picture so flipping cute!

  16. says

    No kids around to influence, but when I’m talking to others (and to the mirror) about fitness and losing weight, I try to emphasize how I FEEL without the extra 100 pounds. Because that truly is the biggest payoff of all.

  17. says

    Love that you included ‘shed the scale’- kids definitely take notice, even if you’re doing it mindlessly every morning. My 3 year old is noticing a lot more these days, and I’m really starting to scrutinize my words and behavior to ensure I’m modeling the body confidence I want her to have.

  18. says

    Yep, those little eyes and ears are always open, so to me, modeling is always the best. I emphasize to them all the things they can do and leave all talk about how they look out of the equation, especially w/ the daughter.

  19. says

    Your tips are perfect! I’ve been fortunate so far, in that my children (and daughter in particular) are all super comfortable in their own bodies. Hoping that it stays that way as we move into puberty with dear daughter…

    And my scale is returning to the storage locker just as soon as I finish this DietBet (which I’m losing and care not!)

  20. says

    It’s so hard, isn’t it? One of the hardest things for me to hear is when my kids come to me saying that they can’t do something because they don’t believe that their body is capable. We try to do all the things you list above plus focusing on what the body is able to do (vs. how it looks) and on practice. Practice goes with your point about letting our kids struggle. My oldest would give up in a heartbeat because he didn’t think he could do something. But we talk about the need to practice what we do and how Mommy and Daddy continue to practice but that grin on his face when he comes out the other side – when he realized what he and his body are capable of is priceless.

  21. says

    Love this post! We shed the scale years ago as well. Its too depressing. I use my jeans as a gauge….that seems to work the best!

  22. says

    SO GLAD to see parents like you doing all they can to counteract the crazy messages girls get about their bodies.

    And love that you are spreading the word to other moms who might not be conscious of the messages they’re sending.

    I’ve had a number of coaching clients recall their own mothers’ actions & words around diet/fitness/weight/shame and the negative impact it had on their body image; wouldn’t it be great if that cycle stopped and positive messages started multiplying to new generations? Fingers crossed!

  23. says

    Great post! For me, it’s constantly “monkey see, monkey do” with my girls. Remembering to stay positive, so they see and hear that is key.

  24. says

    This is SUCH a great post and topic, Carla. I have a six year old daughter and a 9 year old son. It IS getting tougher the older they get (yes, the boy too). But my daughter is watching me and how I react to things, my self confidence, and the way I handle situations. Just like Hanan said above… monkey see, monkey do. As a Thirty-One consultant, I was so happy to find out last week that we have teamed up with an organization called Girl Talk.Org and its mission is to help build our girls self confidence and give them the tools to make it through this tough world. It is our job as mom’s to help each other and keep the conversation going, so thank you for this post :)

  25. says

    I pray everyday that my niece grows up and has self-confidence! it is so important especially now with all the internet garage out there to show girls they are already beautiful and strong!

  26. says

    This is a really important topic to me. When I was a kid I thought I was fat. It started around age 9. Looking back at photos I was NOT. I have no idea where I got the complex but I did. And I spent most of my life self-conscious of my body until I eventually WAS fat. Losing 100 pounds gave me self-confidence but I worry a lot about my future children. I want to give them a chance to grow up without worrying about body image and I want them to know what healthy eating is–without giving them the opposite complex!!

  27. cheryl says

    Threw the scale away when daughter decided dance was to be her “thing”-
    but no matter what you do, they get eyed and talked about by others. You can’t shield them from other people’s opinions, and when they are in middle school, those opinions/comments are way more important than mom/dad’s.

    Here is what a Urdhva Dhanurasana SHOULD look like… straight arms-head in between them-and the leg up is really fun! Try it!

    http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-I3bqXz_ibFc/TcEvJlG-ORI/AAAAAAAAAEs/0jzhCT8-1G0/s1600/Wheel-Pose.jpg&imgrefurl=http://bkshealthyoga.blogspot.com/2011/05/chakrasanaurdhva-dhanurasanawheel-pose.html&h=400&w=266&sz=15&tbnid=POoskozbThzTvM:&tbnh=90&tbnw=60&prev=/search%3Fq%3Dwheel%2Bpose%26tbm%3Disch%26tbo%3Du&zoom=1&q=wheel+pose&usg=__P7A8MWI9Y2BzFvMmTTwWYbnEM8A=&sa=X&ei=JQIwUeH-OaH7yAHNgoGwDw&ved=0CCkQ9QEwBQ

  28. Janis says

    Tip #4: Teach your children that making fun of other people for their bodies is UNACCEPTABLE. You can try to be empowerfulating all you want, but when a girl gets to a certain age and starts wanting boys to like her, a boy who was NOT raised to be so thoughtful and enlightened can create a huge lifelong problem with one nasty remark. And I have no doubt that the same can be said for the reverse.

    Teach your kids that if they have pride in themselves that they are NOT to damage that pride in others. To do so is unacceptable behavior.

    (This includes “I hate you, you’re so skinny,” BTW.)

  29. says

    I am really good about practicing what I preach when it comes to working out, but many times I am too hard on my own body and I do not want to pass this on to my own children. I will have to be so careful about what I say and do in front of them.

  30. says

    My mom struggled with body issues and managed to shield them from me when I was younger – BUT as I got older she was obsessed with my weight and concerns that I might have an eating disorder. I lost a lot of weight in college because I realize that fast food was not healthy – and for years she would comment that I was anorexic or was “just too skinny.” I’m not going to say it was as damaging as a mother telling her daughter she’s fat and that she needs to lose weight when she’s 9 – but it definitely altered the perception of my body image in an unhealthy way – even in my late teens and early twenties.

    i haven’t really figured out my strategy on how to deal with this with my kids as they get older. I don’t own a scale either, I rarely talk about weight/body size, and instead try to focus on how fun it is to exercise. There is just so much more to life than “having the perfect body” or being the exact weight you want to be and I can only hope that is the message I am sending. *fingers crossed!*

  31. says

    These are wonderful tips. My favorite is “practice what you preach”. Words mean nothing to kids. they want to do what we do, so we have to be healthy and show them it’s the right thing to do. Thanks for sharing!

  32. says

    Mimicry is huge! Try and fail and try and succeed in front of them! Try new things often also fab! Don’t be a side line mum, play and have fun with them. Tell them how awesome and miraculous they are often! Love yourself and your own body!

  33. says

    Running is my primary form of exercise and I love to race. We make my races a family event, yes it is inconvenient sometimes. It means we all have to wake up early and I have to get the kids dressed and ready as well as myself. But it has been worth it. My three year old daughter has watched me, cheered for me, rung cowbells for me and she mimics my races at home: running marathons around the living room. There are races where it would be much easier for me to go alone, but we’ve made the commitment to make each race a family event.

  34. says

    I never used a scale as a kid except for my yearly physical at the doctors.

    I was very into playing outside and that was that.

    I don’t know if I learned to like to be active or just did it because I liked it, but it’s carried me to this day.

    Good luck with all this. The real rest comes after the girl is 10, or so an eight year old girl once told me :-)

  35. says

    I love the part about ditching the scale! That silly appliance has done way more damage than good in the lives of many. You’re right about using your clothes to tell the story.

    Great Post!

    • says

      Yeah you and Ann are right – no scale please. Kids can get the wrong idea – it can make that weight number some important all-deciding factor, which of course it isn’t

  36. says

    I remember my mother obsessing with her weight and it definitely passed down to me. I hope I can break the habit for my kids!

  37. says

    I agree with shredding the scale, if you focus on the numbers on the scale that is how you will learn to determine your success with health and weight loss. You should be focusing on how you FEEL not how much you weigh! It looks like you have been a fantastic influence on your daughter and I’m sure she will have great habits and stay confident in herself as she grows up :)

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