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One of the most delicate times in childhood is when your child starts developing a sense of self. Children go from an environment where they were often unconditionally loved and sheltered by their parents where looks had little importance. They then have to move to primary and secondary school when they eventually start realising the importance of looks in society. This is usually when children start facing concerns about their appearance.
The way you handle this will be crucial, as they may start forming insecurities that might haunt them for the rest of their lives. Here are a few things to keep in mind when dealing with children who may have concerns about their appearance.
Remind them of their Positive Attributes
One of the things you have to do is help them focus on their strengths over their weaknesses. These do not necessarily have to do with appearance either; it could be about their intelligence, their kindness towards others, or some skill that they have.
You have to remind them that value isn’t from appearance alone and that some people would love to have that particular attribute that they have. You also have to make sure that it is rooted in reality. If you do so, it will keep getting reinforced when they’re in the real world, and it will become part of their personality.
Set a Good Example
If you’re constantly complaining about how fat you look and how you need to shed some pounds, then this will not go down well. Your children, even if they have no issues at all, may start feeling self-conscious themselves because that’s what adults do. This is why it’s important that you don’t constantly harp on and on about appearance and also don’t be obsessed about the looks of others.
Hearing you constantly praise the beauty of some celebrity will reinforce the need for them to compare to others. You have to be very careful with your dialogue, so they don’t start putting too much importance on appearance.
Instead of focusing on appearance only, why not focus on them being healthy instead? Being healthy has the benefits of making us look better, but it doesn’t have to be the focus. By helping them be healthy early, you’ll decrease the chance that they develop a negative body image later on.
Don’t Speak About Dieting
However, while you want to teach them to be healthy, never speak about dieting around them, let alone encourage them to follow one. First of all, dieting is ironically one of the worst things you can do to your body; you deprive your body of proper nutrients, which are essential for a growing child. They might start experiencing dizziness and loss of focus, which will have a disastrous effect on their learning. Not only that, but you are sending them on their way to developing an eating disorder at an early age.
You should also make sure that you monitor your child’s eating habits. If you notice them intentionally not eating their meals, or even worse, avoiding foods that they think will make them fat, then this is a clear warning sign, and you should consider visiting a child psychologist immediately.
Look at Options
There are times where body image issues are actually well-founded, and you shouldn’t ignore these. No amount of positive reinforcement will be able to help a child who is dealing with teeth issues for instance. Fortunately, this is something that can be solved by a visit to the clinic.
If your child has severely misaligned teeth, we suggest you start looking at clear braces and how much braces cost. Clinics like Straight My Teeth, for instance, will be able to offer different teeth straightening solutions based on your child’s condition. They will have options that will be less invasive than others and will allow your child to have a perfect dentition without having to wear big unsightly braces that could add to their insecurities. The process is also extremely simple and they will be able to show your child an impression of what their teeth will exactly look like before they get the braces.
Listen to Them
The most important thing at the end of the day is to always listen to your children. Listen about the different concerns they may have about their general appearance. Puberty, in particular, can be a very tough time. This is when you have to reassure them that the changes they’re experiencing are totally normal and that not everyone develops at the same rate.
Dealing with self-image issues as a child is never easy, and you have to be prepared to help. Make sure that you follow these few tips in this article, and don’t hesitate to see a professional if things get out of hand.