With all the focus on weight today it is not surprising that children are starting to look at their bodies at earlier ages. Children as young as 7 years of age are asking parents about their bodies. Where are they getting it from? Well, I would imagine television, magazines and the internet are some places. However, as we were all children once, it is also coming from other children. I can still remember well kids making fun of other children. While I never participated in it, I was a recipient of it, so I know how it feels. While mine wasn’t weight-related, it still hurts. From what I am seeing and reading it is even nastier and more prevalent in our schools today.
So, what do you say to your child when they ask you if you think they are overweight, fat, or whatever adjective was used by another child when taunting them. As hard as it is, you will need to convey to your child that everyone is different. How we look and grow will depend on how we take care of our bodies. Explain to them how body types are dependent upon family, eating habits, and physical activity. Also, be sure to tell them that they are and will be growing and changing until their teens. If you have pictures of yourself or others in childhood and then adulthood show them those pictures to give them an idea of changes that occur.
Please be sure to talk to your child and do so carefully and seriously about this. It is very important that your child realizes he must eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner, to take his/her vitamins, and to drink their milk. Don’t just ignore this discussion. Children are growing up faster and faster today and becoming aware much earlier in the life of their body image. How children and adults view themselves as one of the classic signs of anorexia and other eating disorders.
If you feel you are not qualified to handle their questions, please consult a professional to do so.