Unfortunately, the negativity you may feel when you look in the mirror doesn鈥檛 stop as soon as you have a son or daughter. And although we may have our own set of self-care strategies and understand the need to actively seek out body-positive literature or other sources for inspiration, children instead look to us for guidance and reassurance on this front. So as a parent, and consequently a role model, it鈥檚 critical for you to know how to effectively address the topic of body image, and ultimately encourage a positive one in your littles. We spoke with Paige O鈥橫ahoney, a certified health and wellness coach and retired pediatrician, about how to raise a self-confident kid amid your own struggles with self-esteem.

1. Focus on the right things. O鈥橫ahoney stresses that parents should prioritize function over appearance (e.g., 鈥淵our eyes help you see pretty things,鈥 versus, 鈥淵our eyes are pretty鈥) and strength over thinness (e.g., 鈥淵our legs are so strong,鈥 versus, 鈥淵our legs are so skinny.鈥) Above all else, 鈥測ou want your child to be healthy,鈥 she says. So underscoring the importance of health more so than other aspects of the child is an effective way of encouraging them to do the same.

2. Encourage self-care. Promote the practice of self-care, particularly by engaging in it yourself. You should not only encourage your children to practice self-care, but also praise them for it as a way of further reinforcing its importance. 鈥淚t鈥檚 a practice that supports self-efficacy and confidence,鈥 O鈥橫ahoney comments, which is why it should and must be done habitually by both you and your child.

3. Model acceptance. Be mindful of what you say about your body in front of your children, especially as you look in the mirror or at yourself in photos. They will utilize the positive words you say as the 鈥渓anguage [with which] to speak kindly to themselves,鈥 O鈥橫ahoney remarks. As a starting point, make positive rather than negative statements about your body and appearance and focus on its uniqueness rather than comparing it to the bodies of others.

4. Draw from media. Although some media may send harmful messages about body images, others can be exemplary of body positivity. 鈥淯se TV, videos, and movies to discuss celebrities who appear to have a positive body image and what they say or do to care for their bodies in a supportive, loving, sustainable way,鈥 O鈥橫ahoney advises. As for addressing those negative media messages, talk with your child directly about what pressures they feel they face to have 鈥減erfect bodies.鈥 O鈥橫ahoney recommends then brainstorming with them to come up with kind and productive ways in which they can respond to said pressures.

5. Ask for help. Despite your efforts, your child may succumb to social pressures, leaving them with a low sense of self-worth. If your child seems to be struggling with body image issues, reach out to their pediatrician for assistance, O鈥橫ahoney says. They will be able to refer you to an expert in the appropriate field.

How do you promote body positivity as a parent? Tweet us @BritandCo.

(Photo via Getty)