Being a parent is tricky in so many ways, and that includes encouraging your kids to practice health and fitness. On one hand, you want your kids to be healthy, but on the other hand, you don’t want to put excessive pressure on them to be a certain weight or send the message that they’re not as attractive or worthy if they’re overweight. How do you strike a balance between the two?
There are ways to teach your kids body positivity and instill healthy self-esteem regardless of their weight while also teaching them the building blocks of health and fitness. Try putting these top strategies and tips into practice.
Focus on Health, Not Appearance
Every parent loves to see their kids getting healthier, but the way you praise their improvements will impact their mindset as they grow up. When your child makes achievements, focus on complimenting their fitness improvements rather than their weight or appearance. Instead of saying, “You look so much thinner,” tell them, “You’re getting so much better at running!” or “You looked like you could have kept going on that bike ride all day!”
The same is true when your kids aren’t making the right choices and you want to encourage them to be healthier. Instead of saying, “You seem to be gaining weight,” tell them, “Wouldn’t it be great if gym class were less tiring?” The aim is to teach your kids to make positive choices for their health, rather than to develop the mindset of “thin is good, heavy is bad” so they’re less likely to resort to unhealthy measures to lose weight.
Praise Your Own Fitness and Minimize Your Focus on Your Appearance
In the same way that you want your kids to focus on improving their health rather than worrying about their appearance, you need to model that behavior for yourself too. If your kids hear you calling yourself unattractive because of a few extra pounds, they may internalize it and become just as critical of themselves.
Instead, celebrate your fitness wins rather than the numbers on your scale, and let your kids be part of the celebration. Did you hit a PR during your workout today? Tell your kids about it and let them be excited for you so they learn to appreciate their own fitness achievements too.
Avoid Using Aesthetics as a Reason to Practice Healthy Habits
As a parent, you want to instill healthy habits in your kids, like eating a balanced diet of whole foods and exercising regularly. As kids do, though, your children will probably ask you why they need to do these things.
When you answer them, put the focus on health rather than weight. Answers like, “To help you be healthy for many years,” or, “To help you feel good and have enough energy,” should take the place of answers like, “So you stay thin,” or, “So you can lose weight.”
Balancing Body Positivity with Fitness Education
Setting up your kids for a life of health and happiness goes beyond their physical health and into their mental health. From a young age, encouraging kids to love and feel proud of themselves while practicing healthy habits can serve them well for life. For more family fitness tips or to find new ways to get active alongside your kids, explore our Mommy and Me fitness program and follow us on Instagram.