The drive for the ideal body shape and size is so strong that some will undergo risky, expensive surgeries to help achieve the body they want.
In 2003, more than 223,000 cosmetic surgeries were performed on kids 18 years or younger, and nearly 39,000 of them involved tummy tucks, breast augmentations, liposuction and nose reshaping, according to the ACOG Committee on Adolescent Health Care. Especially worrisome is the fact that parents are often encouraging these types of surgeries. In fact, Silvermansays parents are increasingly giving their girls “boobs and nose jobs as graduation gifts instead of a car.”“We really need to watch what we do and say,” says Silverman. “We are models for our children.”
CHILDREN AND PROMOTING A POSITIVE BODY IMAGE:
1. MAKE PHYSICAL ACTIVITY PART OF YOUR FAMILY’S DAILY ROUTINE.
According to the government’s Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, children and adolescents should get at least
one hour of physical activity each day. Encourage your kids to find activities they love, and plan family outings such as bike riding, hiking or rollerblading.
2. LIMIT TV, CELL PHONES AND COMPUTER TIME
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a maximum of one to two hours of screen time/technology
each day, including TV, computers and video games
. Less screen time means more time for physical activities.
3. EXPOSE THE MEDIA’S TRICKS OF THE TRADE.
Teach kids that the flawless images of models they see on the cover of magazines aren’t real—they’re digitally enhanced. “The lips are blown up, the coloring is enhanced, and all the fat is taken out and put into her boobs,” says Dr. Robyn Silverman, child and teen development expert and author. Look at before-and-after photos of cover models online with your kids, and you may be surprised by what you see.
4. AVOID CRITICIZING YOUR BODY OR COMPARING YOURSELF TO OTHERS.
Don’t disparage your body or make negative comments about others. Saying, “I wish I had long, thin legs
like hers” or “I shouldn’t have eaten that cheesecake” sends the message that weight and size are important. Resist the urge to compare or criticize your child’s body in any way.
5. PROVIDE A VARIETY OF HEALTHY FOODS AND DON’T LABEL FOODS AS GOOD OR BAD.
Instead of dieting, eat balanced nutritious meals and enjoy sweets or fast food as a treat.
6. ENJOY MEALS TOGETHER.
Family meals are the perfect time to enjoy conversation without the distractions of TV, cell phones or computers. Research studies have shown that having family meals together on a regular basis may lower children’s risk of drug
, eating disorders
7. VOLUNTEER AS A FAMILY.
Serving others cultivates gratitude for what we have, while building self-worth
and stronger relationships. How you spend your time and what you put into your body send a powerful message to your kids. When you take care of yourself and make healthy choices, you
teach your children to do the same.