If you want your children to have a healthy body image, make sure you're sending the right message yourself. Sari Simkins, the manager of healthy living for Toronto Public Health, has these tips.
• Focus on eating healthfully and enjoying an active lifestyle. And try to catch yourself before making negative remarks about your own weight or appearance ("These pants make me look so fat"). If you're preoccupied with dieting, calories and weight gain, chances are your impressionable teen will be, too.
• Watch what you say about your child's looks. An offhand remark about your son's "gummy smile" or "pudgy stomach" could sabotage his healthy self-image.
• Avoid making comments about people based on weight, shape or size. And teach your children that teasing other kids about their weight and shape is unacceptable.
• Praise kids for the things they do – the way they treat others, for example – rather than the way they look. Encourage them to focus on their abilities, not their appearance.
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