Our perception of our bodies and how we see ourselves contributes to our self-esteem because our bodies are a significant part of who we are. Having a poor body image is strongly associated with poor self-esteem. Body image is independent of the actual appearance of a person. For example, a person within a healthy and average weight range may perceive themselves as being overweight. Other factors that can affect body dissatisfaction include skin colour, religious and/or cultural diversity, disabilities, skin appearance – acne, birth marks, scarring, pigmentation or hair – style or colour.
There is a significant rise in the number of children struggling to develop a healthy relationship with their body. The age at which they start having “body image “ issues is getting younger and children as young as 3 or 4 years old have been observed to express dissatisfaction about some aspects of their bodies. The influx of media with its unrealistic portrayals of the “ right type ’’ of body especially influences the outlook children have towards their bodies and may also lead to bullying among peers.
 
It is important that we as parents help the children build pride and confidence and develop a healthier relationship with their bodies. We also need to build their awareness about the influence of media as well as peers and how they can make more informed choices for themselves. 

Tips for parents & care givers:

 * Discuss rather than dismiss – When a child discusses any issue or concerns they have around their body , just don’t simply dismiss them as irrelevant even if they seem irrational .Use the opportunity to talk to them , understand their concerns, build their awareness and develop their self-esteem.

 * Imbibe rather than just dictate – It is found in recent studies that almost as soon as pre-schoolers complete the developmental task of mastering a concept of their bodies, they begin to express concerns about their bodies, taking their cues from peers, adults, and media around them. Ideas about body shape and physical appearance are passed from parents or carers, to children through direct comments about their appearance. They are also transferred via the attitude and values about physical appearance that these adults model. Parents and careers need to model a healthy relationship with food themselves to impart healthy values and attitudes to children. They can also help a child understand how they can look not just better but be healthy through the choices they make.

* Engage – Engage children and teenagers in conversation about the portrayal of body image in the mass media, how these images are created and how they feel about them. Teach your children that body image is about being happy with yourself and not being concerned about unrealistic cultural and social expectations.                                                       

In fact take little steps every day to build not only your child’s s confidence in their bodies and themselves but your own too smiley

Article courtesy : School of Life is an organization that works extensively with teachers, parents and students on creating awareness on identifying, handling and prevention of Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) and Sexuality Education. Our core team consists of a curious mix of clinical psychologists, behavioural experts, legal consultants, business entrepreneurs and communication professionals- all working together towards the common vision of a safe and healthy childhood for every child. Since its inception a little more than a year ago, School of Life has directly worked with nearly 4500 children, parents, teachers and healthcare professionals, from varied socio-economic backgrounds to equip them with the knowledge and skills to identify, prevent and respond to CSA. Visit us at: Website: www.schooloflife.org.in and Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SchoolofLifeIndia

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