It's not uncommon these days to hear a five-year-old say "I hate my belly."
How in the world have they learned that attitude at such a young age?
Even though they may not exactly know what they mean by the sentiment, they've seen it in their role models (older siblings, parents), as well as plastered across media outlets.
Lisa Lynn, author of I Love My Body, a children's book about self-love and positive body image, grew up as an overweight child, suffering from a sugar addiction as early as two years of age. She suffered through the hurt of name-calling, such as "roly poly," but eventually learned to grow out of the negative self-talk and thrive as a healthy adult.
Lisa says that self-love is the best way to teach kids about positive body image and healthy lifestyle, and the book aims to give parents the tools to do just that.
For instance, instead of "I hate my belly" or "my thighs are too big," Lisa says that we should be teaching kids to say, "I love my arms because they let me hug my family."
Two other huge factors in positive body image are gratitude and laughter. A four-year-old laughs about 300-400 times a day; a 40-year-old laughs about four times a day. Be grateful for the body that you have, even if it's not perfect. And, be grateful for everything you have. Lisa suggests having a "gratitude meeting" every night.
What can parents do if they suspect negative body image thoughts creeping into their child's brain?
Address it and start talking about it... but, sit back and listen. Let your kid vent. And, if need be, throw yourself under the bus. If you recognize that you've been saying negative things about your own body in front of your child, own up to that and then take steps to change. You have to lead by example, because kids watch way more than you think.
Listen in as Lisa shares more about the book, as well as practical steps parents (and kids) can take to improve self-love, boost body image, and live happy, healthy lives.