Many children and adolescents have mixed feelings about the way they look. Too many kids believe they are ugly, fat, or simply don’t look the way they “should”. Much of what they see on television and in the movies can reinforce the belief that there is a “right” way to look and that beauty is narrowly defined.
Go out of your way to point out beauty in all its forms to your children—faces, trees, muddy rivers. This alone is not going to buffer children against all the messages and images we consume about beauty, but it is a start. Work with your child to develop an appreciation of themselves—talents, passions, strengths—physical appearance is just one aspect of who they are.
Explore with your children what they enjoy about themselves and their body—not simply it's appearance, but what it can do! Write these questions and activities on note cards (or make ones of your own) and take turns pulling one out of a box and answering it or doing what the card says. You can do this as a family, with one child, or with a child and his/her friends.
- What is one thing that you can do physically that you weren’t able to do a year ago?
- When do you feel powerful and strong?
- When do you feel beautiful?
- What is one physical challenge that you’d like to set for yourself (running one mile, learning to play tennis, riding a bike for 5 miles, etc.)
- What is one of your personal strengths (kindness, creativity, bravery, etc.)? Tell a story of how you used that strength to deal with a challenge or problem.
- What is a new healthy habit that you’d like to start?
- What is something about your personality that you are proud of?
- What is an example of how you helped someone through a difficult time?
- What is something that you are really good at and want to do more of?
- Take a 15 minute walk around the neighborhood and name 5 things that you find beautiful.
- Dance around the room for 10 minutes. Have fun! Dance any way you want to.
- Do ten jumping jacks and then run in place for five minutes. What do you like about how your body feels afterwards?
- Play catch, four square, or wiffle ball for 20 minutes.
- Make up a new jump rope game and play it for 15 minutes.
- Make an obstacle course in the yard and time each other going through it