I want to raise my kids to feel peaceful, if not confident in their bodies, no matter the size or shape. But I’ve often wondered if I must achieve body positivity myself before I’m able to instill it in my kids.
In a chat with Bethany MacGillivray, Certified Clinical Counsellor and Professional Art Therapist, I was pleased to learn that no, I can still be a work in progress while setting my kids up with healthy ideas and understanding around diet and body image.
Bethany’s focus is on personal wellness, body-acceptance and empowerment. She reminded me that practicing self-compassion is important and that if I model this, my kids will learn to be kind to themselves in the same way.
Bethany’s tips for body-positive parenting
- Remove speaking negatively about your body out loud. To encourage a body positive mindset, your child should hear their parent speak kindly about their own body and appearance.
- Food is neither good nor bad. All food provides nutrition and fuel to the body in some form. Talk about food from a place of nourishment and what it will help the body accomplish. Ex. Vegetables make us strong or fast.
- Highlight qualities about your child that are not connected with appearance. This encourages them to value character strengths.
- Focus on function and not form when referring to the body and celebrate all the incredible things your body can do. Ex. Your strong arms lift you onto the monkey bars.
- Ensure that the media your family consumes is inclusive of different shapes, sizes and representation of strength and beauty. Look for magazines, books, movies with characters that don’t all have the same bodies and abilities.
- Start today. It is never too late to change the way you talk about food or your body. You don’t have to love your body to have a healthy relationship with your body and to be grateful for all it does.
Learn more from Bethany at www.soulflowtherapy.com
Jenn Wint is a writer, communications strategist and a public relations specialist. She is passionate about storytelling and community. Jenn lives in East Vancouver with her husband, 3yo son and 1yo daughter. You’ll find them hanging around Vancouver’s playgrounds, water parks, coffee shops and anywhere that bakes fresh cookies in-house!