Parents Play Key Role in Healthy Body Image for ChildrenWednesday, September 8. 2010
The Butterfly Foundation is urging parents to play a positive role in their child’s attitudes and behaviours to their body as part of National Body Image and Eating Disorder Awareness Week 5-11 September. Poor body image is a well-established pathway to disordered eating, one of the strongest risk factors in development of an eating disorder.
Chief Executive Officer of The Butterfly Foundation, Christine Morgan, says: “Positive language, attitudes and actions about body image by parents, extended family and friends can play a crucial role in a child’s healthy attitude to their body. Parents need to be alert to the signs of poor body image, such as constant focus by the young person on their size and shape, dieting, use of weight control pills and excessive exercise.
“There are a number of pressures within our society that help create poor body image, and parents need to be mindful of everyday talk in the home about food, body shape and self-esteem. Using scales to measure body weight is one practice that should be abandoned.”
By 12 years of age, only 56 per cent of Australia’s girls like the way they look, and only 33 per cent of boys feeling satisfied with their body.
Four signs of poor body image are:
1. A distorted image of their body, i.e. seeing the body as larger (girls) or smaller (boys) than it actually is
2. Attempting to adhere to society-imposed weight standards that are either completely unattainable or attainable only by extreme effort
3. Body bullying, i.e. thinking and speaking harshly about specific body parts
4. Use of unhealthy and extreme weight loss or body building behaviours
Research shows that initiatives which address body image concerns help to prevent development of eating disorders in young men and women.
High self-esteem, positive body image and careful choice of images used in the media all help protect young people from developing negative body image and a vulnerability to eating disorders and disordered eating behaviours.
Do you know any children that struggle with their body image?
How can parents encourage their children and ensure they have a positive body image?
What do you think the public needs to do to help children who have a negative body image?