Barnardo’s family ambassador Rebekah Vardy is getting behind the charity’s top tips for parents on how to help their children celebrate who they are and be confident in themselves.
The guidance has been released to mark the start of Mental Health Awareness Week.
Spending hours in front of the mirror trying out different looks has been part of growing up for decades.
But the intensity of this self-scrutiny appears to have increased in this digital age of selfies and social media.
Barnardo’s hopes these four ways to support a child’s positive body image will be useful:
1. Keep it real
Help them celebrate themselves and understand that many of the images they see on adverts and in the media have been airbrushed to appear ‘perfect’.
Talk to them about how being surrounded by supportive friends you can support too and using your talents to their best are what can make you a happier person.
2. Celebrate all shapes and sizes
Help your kids to embrace and celebrate diversity in body shapes and sizes.
Talk about peer pressure, and how true friends accept each other for who they are and not what they look like or how much they weigh.
3. Talk through body self-criticisms
If your child criticises the way they look, listen without judgement and try and have a relaxed conversation about any insecurities they may have about their appearance.
Without making it into a ‘big thing’, try to provide reassurance and context.
4. Eat well and exercise regularly
Encourage your child to eat a healthy balanced diet which includes fruit and vegetables.
You may not be able to take charge of what they eat out of the home, but you can still convey the important message that food is fuel for a healthy body.
Even if your child does not like team sports you can encourage them to develop a new sporting interest.
If you notice some of the signs and symptoms of eating disorders in your child, it’s important to try to get them to seek help with your support. The earlier they receive treatment, the better their chance of a full recovery.
Rebekah Vardy, who is married to England striker Jamie, said:
“It’s important for all children to realise they are amazing and to celebrate themselves and try to ignore those who criticise them.
“I make a point of never speaking negatively about my own body in front of my children. If they see me trying on clothes I never criticise my own appearance in front of them as I feel like children pick up habits like this from their parents.
“Parents can help by encouraging their children to have a positive body image and say positive things about themselves. I hope the tips issued by Barnardo’s help them to do this.”
Barnardo’s Chief Executive Javed Khan said:
“Children today are under enormous pressure to live up to the images they see online, and we know this can have a devastating impact on their mental health.
“I’m really grateful to our ambassador Rebekah Vardy for supporting our ‘top tips’ for parents, so they can help young people feel confident and proud of who they are.
“Barnardo’s motto is ‘incredible things happen when you believe in children’, and a vital part of our work is helping children to believe in themselves.
“To achieve this, it’s important that adults make themselves available to listen to children and to help them get to grips with the challenges they may be facing – both on and offline.”