7 Ways to Encourage Body Positivity

Studies show that by the time kids reach pre-adolescence “tween” years, 40% of girls consider themselves overweight. 45% of boys and girls in grades 3-6 want to be thinner. And 81% of 10 year olds are afraid of being fat.

Body positivity is a sensitive topic to address with children. Their experiences with self-esteem and body image are often fraught with mixed messages from their social environment and media. But with support from parents and loved ones, it can be achieved.

We’ve compiled 7 strategies to help you not only set the stage for your kids to have a positive and healthy experience with their bodies, but address any concerns or worries that do come up. 

1. Do Unto Others As You Would Do For Your Child

Kids learn not only from how you talk about yourself, but also from the way you speak about others. Comments like “They look too skinny” about others can send them mixed messages and derail your efforts.


2. Focus on Abilities, Not Looks

Our bodies are beautiful and strong, and have endless capabilities. Celebrate that in your child! If they’ve accomplished something great, focus on what they’ve achieved and how they felt about it.

3. “Fat” Isn’t Necessarily “Bad”

It’s important to recognize and show our children that one size doesn’t fit all bodies. Being thin isn’t the priority, being healthy is.

4. Recognize Your Own Baggage

Before opening a dialogue, it’s important to self reflect and own the background that you’re coming to the conversation with. Your feelings surrounding and experiences involving your own body image affect how you discuss the subject with your child.

5. Be Open And Listen

A simple, yet incredibly important tip. Sometimes, more than lessons or knowledge, kids need a safe place to come to when they’re struggling. Being that place and being open to whatever they have to say will give you insight into their thoughts, which will better help you understand the actual problem that needs to be addressed.

Listening doesn’t have to be passive. Here are a couple of strategies to help you actively listen and engage.

Ask Open-Ended Questions

Give them a platform to share and open up. Using What, How, When, and Where questions are all great ways to explore the discussion without putting them on the spot or making them feel judged for sharing.

“What’s been making you feel bad?”

Use Their Language

Specific terms can be a minefield to navigate in a discussion about body image. Keep it simple, and use the language you hear. If they say they’ve been called chubby, use chubby instead of fat. This way, you won’t be labelling them, and they will feel heard.

These tips are a good starting place, but they aren’t the only methods out there to encourage and support positive body image and self-esteem. If you would like more resources and ideas, you can check out the following list of links:

Loneliness and Low Self-Esteem (Here’s How You Can Help!)

“You don’t understand!”

I’m sure many parents have heard this coming from their teenagers. You find yourself reflecting back to your own adolescent years as you watch your teen storm to their room, throw their backpack on the floor, and slam the bedroom door behind them.

You remember the rock n’ roll music, the fluffy hair, and the bright colored clothing. You didn’t have social media, access to oodles of information at your fingertips or even privacy when it came to talking to your friends on the home phone. It feels like a lifetime ago. How could you possibly relate?

Your teen’s experience isn’t so different than your own. Teens still experience the pressure to fit in, the pressure to date, the pressure to perform academically, and the fear of failure. Just as you once did. And when struggling to fit in, it’s all too easy to feel out of place and lonely. Sometimes, teens choose to isolate themselves as a result of bullying. None of which helps with their self-esteem.

finalTeens experiencing low self-esteem view themselves as unworthy and lack confidence. It interferes with their ability to form relationships, try new activities, and take healthy risks. It’s unlikely that your teen will come forward and tell you that they are struggling with low self-esteem. So how will you know when to step in?

Here are some common signs to look for in your teen:

Negative self-perception:

Teens experiencing low self-esteem may express negative thoughts about their worth.

“I’m just not good enough to be friends with them.”

Inability to make eye-contact:

Teens struggling with low self-esteem may find it difficult to make eye contact when communicating. They assume the other person is viewing them negatively.

Avoiding social situations:

Teens with low self-esteem may lack the confidence to form social relationships and therefore avoid social situations altogether.

As a parent, you can play a key role in building your teen’s self-esteem. This will enable your teen to take on challenges with confidence and feel a sense of pride in their abilities. Here are some ways you can help improve your teen’s self-esteem:

Focusing on Strengths

What does your teen excel in? What are their interests? Build upon these strengths.

If your teen enjoys reading, have them join a book club where they can meet others with similar hobbies.

Provide Praise

It’s important to praise your teen when they’ve done something well. Try to make your teen aware of the qualities you admire about them.

“I like the way you took the time to help your grandmother. You are a kind-hearted person.”


Encourage your teen to spend a little time journaling every day. Journaling is a great way to become more aware of yourself.

Have your teen write down their highlights for the day, characteristics they like about themselves or things they are grateful for. For more prompts, you can look here.

The next time your teen tells you that you don’t understand, let them know that actually, you do understand. Try to relate by sharing your own personal experiences. Most importantly, don’t forget to remind them that you are there for them and that they have your support.