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The Good Parenting Food Guide: Managing What Children Eat Without Making Food a Problem by Jane Ogden

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14

“My child thinks they are fat”

Many adults don't like the way they look, and women in particular often feel that they are too fat and unattractive. Men can also be dissatisfied with their bodies and often say that they want to be taller or more muscly. Unfortunately children nowadays also have these feelings and both girls and boys as young as 9 have been shown to worry about being fat. But it is not only being too fat that can make them unhappy. Feeling too short, too tall, too skinny, too spotty, having curly hair, or having straight hair, or just feeling different, in a million possible ways, from the way they would like to look, can be upsetting. This chapter will offer some tips on how to manage a child who is critical of how they look, and suggest some ways to shift their attention away from their body onto other aspects of who they are.
What can we do?
  • Be positive about your own body and those of your friends and family: be a good role model.
  • Comment that your child is clever, fun, kind, a good friend, a good runner, or hardworking. Not just that they are pretty or handsome.
  • Teach them to be critical of the media: point out airbrushing, lighting, and makeup whenever you can.
  • Acknowledge their feelings and listen, then focus on the positives.
  • Bin the scales, move the mirrors, and don't criticize their clothes or hair.
  • Use their peers as a comparison, not fake people in the media.
  • Challenge their beliefs.
  • Encourage a “good enough” principle.
  • Expand their interests ...

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