Developing Your Kids' Positive Body Image by Avoiding "Fat Talk"

Your kids' ideas about their bodies are greatly influenced by what they hear you saying. The more "fat talk" they hear from you, the more likely they are to develop a negative image of their bodies instead of a healthy one.

Shawna Kelley works at the Emily Program which provides personalized treatment for eating disorders. According to Kelley, parents often engage in fat talk without really being aware of it and the impact it has on their kids. Some examples of fat talk are:
  • "I need to lose 10 pounds."
  • "Do I look fat in this?"
  • "That dessert isn't good for me."
  • "I might as well just stick this sweet roll on my thighs because that's where it's going to end up!"
  • "I really need to start watching what I eat."
When your kids hear you making these types of comments or similar comments about their bodies, they are at risk for developing a negative body image. The Emily Program reports that among adolescents, the prevalence of eating disorders is 14 percent among females and 6.5 percent among males.

Rather than focusing on weight and dieting, focus on eating healthy and getting exercise. Kelley emphasizes teaching your children that people come in all different shapes and sizes; being thin does not necessarily mean being healthy.


Janis said...

We so wanted to avoid suggesting that our kids needed to not do certain things so they wouldn't get fat. We instead offered positive: good food, good eating habits, exercise. Those habits have carried them through sports and now past college even.

Kathy Slattengren said...

Emphasizing what kids can do instead of what they can't do is a great approach.

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