It’s Never to Late to Teach Your Kids Body Positivity

even if you are still learning it for yourself

photo by Amy Treasure,

My daughter is starting high school this year. Oh, how I remember that freshman year of mine in 1987. Big hair was in, and a shapely body with a tiny waist. I felt the pressure of thinness much earlier than those years but remembering how self-critical I was at that age has me certainly worried for my daughter.

Except this isn’t 1987 and there’s a movement toward body positivity that I find very encouraging. Body Positivity is a phrase used to describe the acceptance and celebration of one’s shape, size, color, and all its unique features — regardless of age and stage in life.

Why aren’t we extending courtesy to ourselves?

It is no longer acceptable to make fat-shaming remarks. It is no longer ok to discriminate against people based on their race or age — not that these things were ever ok, but we are growing as a society that is more inclusive of all people.

We know that we shouldn’t criticize others for how they look and that we should treat other people with kindness. All people. We know these things and we try — -but why aren’t we extending that courtesy to ourselves. Why aren’t we showing ourselves the same measure of acceptance that we try to emulate socially?

We look in the mirror and declare, “I’m fat.”

We look in the mirror and declare, “I’m old.”

And we are doing these things in front of our daughters, our sons, and other people that love us. Which brings me to the question of “How can I teach Body Positivity to my daughter if I have not yet learned that lesson for myself?”

When I was her age I relied on my parents, events and conversations at school with my peers or teachers, and music. We didn’t have Cable television in our house so I guess you could add the afternoon sitcoms to the list of social influences I had. Thirteen years of Girl Scouting and more years than that of the Methodist church.

Today our children have You-tube sensations. They are bombarded with images of the beautiful and the perfect. Pop culture is everywhere — magazines, television, Facebook, Instagram — and kids are glued to their smartphones. We’d be crazy to think they aren’t being inundated with images daily that help to form their sense of self-identities.

It starts with us.

Body Positivity is a crucial message to add to the mix and if we want it to compete with all the other images, they are receiving then we’d better make it frequent. We can start by eliminating critical talk about ourselves. We can start by speaking to our strengths and challenges and remove the focus of what we look like, how our hair is doing on a given day, or whether or not we are having a “skinny day.”

Growing into Body Positivity

The Positive Psychology website has a great list of directives to help you develop a better body image:

· Focus on your positive qualities, skills, and talents.

· Say positive things to yourself every day (practicing affirmations puts this suggestion to use)

· Avoid negative or berating self-talk

· Focus on appreciating and respecting what your body can do

· Set positive, health-focused goals rather than weight loss-focused goals.

· Admire the beauty of others but avoid comparing yourself to anyone else.

· Remind yourself that many media images are unrealistic and unattainable for the vast majority of people

It is difficult, but worth it.

As a woman in my forties it is no longer a struggle to just accept my weight and shape. I now see a face that is aging and wonder where my eyebrows went and what this weird hair is on my chin. Now, aging has entered the mix.

We can start by eliminating critical talk about ourselves.

But if I am diligent enough with my self-talk, I can keep the focus on health-centered goals and self-respect. My daughter tells me every day that I am beautiful. I wonder what a difference it would make if I agreed with her. Warts and all — beautiful. Short and frumpy — beautiful. Wildness for hair — beautiful. With or without makeup — beautiful.

The time for body positivity could not be more important. Take some time to appreciate your body today with all its quirks and flaws and yes even that weird hair on your chin — and celebrate all the positive things your body can do or has been through.

Our children are learning from us and it is up to us, the people that love them, to teach them that they are perfectly wonderful.

Christina Ward is a mom, step-mom, and grandmother. She is also a poet and writer from rural North Carolina.

Holding Out On Social Media

and our 14-year-old daughter is ok with it, mostly

It is totally ok with me for me not to be my daughter’s best friend. I will save that title for her peers…my job is to be her mother.

Back in my day the warnings were to make sure your children don’t go out alone or get into a vulnerable position with stranger…that they were where they said they were…that they chose good friends, were honest, stayed out of trouble…there were so many things but they usually had to do with not being too alone and vulnerable.

We had to be careful what our children watched on TV — a job a lot of parents did not take as serious as I did.

Age appropriate television. I am that kind of parent. And I am proud of that.

These days, it is nearly impossible to know what our kids are exposed to, and the general idea I get from most people is that they “are going to see it anyway” so there’s no point in really trying to choose what is appropriate or not…???

In my opinion just because they will see it anyway does not mean we have to serve it up to them on a silver platter.

5 Dangers Of Social Media To Discuss With Your Kids
Here’s what you need to know about keeping your child safe online.With so many computer applications out there and data…

We know our children. We parent each differently, according to their needs.

On a few things, my daughter’s father and I stay firm and one of those things is social media.

My boys, whom I had raised almost completely to adulthood before my daughter came along, weren’t allowed to have cell phones or social media until they were 16. Strict? Maybe, according to some.

But just because society screams for them to have these things at the ripe old age of 7 does not mean that we as parents have to agree that this is right for our children.

We hold out on these things to give us more time to make sure they are socially strong, social media-trained (by us!) and know what they are getting into. It’s nice to make sure they are self-confident and have their “heads on straight” before dropping them off at the door of Snapchat.

In the meantime — read books! Talk with friends! Ride a bike or get some exercise! Spend some time with family!Take the dog for a walk!

Spend a little more time getting to know yourself, your goals, and establish healthy life habits — before the cesspool of public opinion on social media outlets tells you everything that is wrong with you and sucks you into drama that takes over your life.

Take the time to absorb the things of life that really matter.

I explain it like this to my daughter:

Me: Would I take you, at 14, to the mall on a Friday night and drop you off and leave you there by yourself?

Daughter: No!

Me: Why not?

Daughter: Because something could happen to me. I don’t know anyone there. I could get into a bad situation. Or I could get lost or something.

Me: Right. So I’d rather you be with family or friends or a trusted adult. And that is just at the mall…the internet is a lot larger than the mall.

The bottom line is that we do these things with her. Meaning, there are some times we peruse a few Facebook posts with her or show her a feed from a family member. We discuss things happening there that are pertinent to her.

Sometimes if a loved one (one in particular has a nasty habit of posting awful memes! Strip-teasing midgets? Really?) or friend is behaving badly on social media — this can be a great teaching moment.

She has educational experience at school with online forums also, and is expected to represent herself well in these situations (plus the extras the kids sneak in — I’m not foolish here) and limited screen time at home to encourage her to live her life now — before social media takes over her world.

She wants to be a doctor. It’s my job to keep her encouraged and offer her well-rounded, character-building activities.

Rates of adolescent depression and suicide are on the rise, and many parents and psychologists alike are linking this trend to the prevalence of smartphones and social media. — CNBC (

When our daughter was in elementary school a classmate of hers disappeared. She was missing for nearly 48 hours.

My daughter, being very close with this young girl, and the last person to have a conversation with her, was interviewed for hours by the SBI. The police came to our home. My daughter watched this fold out with terror in her eyes.

While in our home for the second or third visit, the Police explained to us that they had the texts between the girl and my daughter and needed clarification on some things being said— what texts?

Our daughter had no ability to text. The girl had been talking to someone using our daughter’s name, and now she was missing.

The 12-year-old girl was found. Our daughter provided pertinent information that led to an area where the child was hiding in the woods near an abandoned church. After being coaxed from the woods she was returned to her terrified parents.

For horrifying statistics regarding children and teens (Prepare yourself. Some of these are very disturbing.)Internet Statistics | GuardChild
GuardChild has researched and compiled a list of Child Internet Crime and Abuse Statistics from: The Pew Institute, The…

We never found out who was posing as our daughter, but the experience shook our child into understanding our concerns. She saw her classmate and friend behaving recklessly and it angered her. The news coverage of that event will follow that child into adulthood.

We do not want to see our daughter’s mistakes or meltdowns — and as a teen they will come — displayed online to follow her into her adulthood, and now our daughter agrees.

In short, we’ve put off the world of social media for our kids for the following reasons:

  • cuts down on drama so they can focus on things that have more intrinsic value in their lives.
  • reduces the chance of negative online experiences / pressure / bullying / unwanted sexual advances from peers or strangers
  • gives more time to develop a sense of self in those early preteen and teen years
  • gives more time for developing a strong line of communication, making sure our child is ready for social media and the responsibility that goes with it
  • we feel it is important to teach and prepare our children for what to expect and how to conduct themselves online (clearly half the adults on social media have not had this training! )

“Spend some time introducing your child to social media, the same way you introduce them to your neighborhood,” said Dr. Turkle, author of “Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age.” “It is simply now part of parenting.” — NYT (

Our oldest sons got their Facebook accounts at 16 and I rarely had any issues with them. Our daughter has snuck several accounts, posted embarrassing selfies, and some rap videos of herself singing about women and guns in less than reputable manners.

The language alone at her then 12 years of age was completely innapropriate— that these were her ideas of how to conduct herself online was alarming, at best! Now, just two years later, if I bring up these videos to her, she asks me again…”Momma please tell me you took that mess down! I can’t believe I did that. That was so stupid.”

Kids don’t think that what they are posting is inappropriate, nor do they think twice about adding strangers that could be who knows who. She was 12 when we discovered these activities having tried out a cell phone for her with the restriction of “no social media”

We decided after that to wait on the cell phone.

Now 14 she’s the proud owner of a cell phone which she knows is a “joint-venture” until she’s ready to fly solo. (Oh please, please stop it with the tongue-sticking-out pictures! At least she’s not sharing them online.)

And, with no social media accounts — she’s still enjoying her life. Her friends are not making fun of her, she isn’t the only one in her whole school, and she is a very well-adjusted young lady.

Parent. Win. Social media can wait — no harm done. As parents, we make the best decisions we can, and hope for the best.

Thank you for reading!

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