KIDS BODY SHAMING ON THE PLAYGROUND
This week our son comes home and informs me that a child at school called him “Fat” while he was at holiday club.
I was livid!
I had to take a couple of breaths before responding to our son. To be honest I didn’t really know how to respond to this? I’m not even sure hubby or I did a decent enough job when addressing it with our son.
Since when do preschoolers care about their weight?
Why are they already conscious of their weight?
Why are preschoolers body shaming each other at age 5 and at times even as young as 3?
Do they even know what they are saying and the impact it may have on the recipient? …NOT!
Our son is naturally big built compared to most of the other kids he interacts with his age. He has always been taller and broader built compared to everyone else in his class but it’s the first time he has been teased about his body, or perhaps it’s the first time he has felt the need to share it with us.
At his age, the culprit doesn’t appreciate that perhaps although our son exercises regularly, cycling or swimming, that perhaps it’s his natural body type. He’s too young after all to appreciate that, but the parents aren’t.
I don’t recall “Fat” being used on the playground growing up or while at preschool.
ISSUE WITH WEIGHT
I’m aware that children pick up these kinds of messages from those around and/or media. If parents make an issue about their body size, so will the kids listening to them, even when you think they’re not! Unfortunately, I don’t believe preschoolers actually know what it means to be “Fat”, but do know that it’s not great to be “Fat”. Our media doesn’t really help much either. Watch any movie or TV series and the slim characters are always adored while the fat characters are made fun of.
Our son isn’t free to eat all the junk he desires. He eats balanced meals. Although a fussy eater he loves his veggies has his fruits and honestly could live without any meat if he could help it. I’m not going to start starving my son just because a child thinks he has an idea of what the ideal body should look like.
As parents, we need to stop talking about losing weight and having to diet around our preschoolers all the time as it has a negative influence on our kids. Stop saying things like “I’ve been so naughty today, I had a slice of cake” or “I feel so fat I need to lose weight” instead rather pass more positive comments about your body like, “I’m eating my veggies so I can stay healthy”. Your kids are listening and start believing that because they don’t look like mom or dad that either they are, or those around them not fitting the profile of their own parent are “Fat”.
THE BUCK STOPS WITH YOU (THE PARENT)
Don’t be tempted to speak critically about YOURSELF or other individuals body types in front of your kids. Teach your kids that it’s not right to be critical of other’s body types by not being “OK” when other family members or friends are critical of your own or your kid’s body shape or size. Rather teach your kids that regardless of any person’s body size, skin colour, height, shoe size, hair colour we all deserve to be treated with respect.
“CHILDREN ARE GREAT IMITATORS, SO GIVE THEM SOMETHING GREAT TO IMITATE”
The reality is that we’re all different, that’s what makes us such an amazing work of God.
Let’s teach our kids to embrace and appreciate all body types.
Let’s teach our kids to enjoy food as long as it’s good for you and even that moderation is always key.
Let’s teach our kids to accept the diversity of the individuals around us and be OK with all that it includes especially body type, race and gender!
Let’s lead by example.
Speak positively about yourself and refrain from passing negative comments about your body or those of others around you in the presence of your kids.
Possibly the easiest way to get this through to your kids is to get them to think before they speak if they can’t say anything positive then rather not say anything at all.
5 TIPS TO RAISE BODY POSITIVE KIDS
- Find ways to reward your kids that don’t involve food
- Talk about health, not weight
- Encourage and Role Model exercise as something fun and healthy
- Don’t label food “good” or “bad”
- NEVER comment on other people’s bodies
IF YOU’VE EXPERIENCED BODY SHAMING ON THE PLAYGROUND, HOW HAVE YOU DEALT WITH IT?
photo sourced online