I’m not actually talking about swearing.
I mean words like ‘fat’ or ‘skinny’, and any other words used to describe someone negatively.
As parents it is our responsibility to shape our children in to the best version of themselves, and that includes a well rounded sense of self and a positive body image.
Making fleeting comments about someone else’s appearance, in the presence of young children sticks in their sponge like impressionable minds.
In fact, making these comments could actually turn your child in to a bully without you realising.
Hear me out…
Aria point blank refused to eat for days. Not in that stubborn “I’m a child who refuses to obey” kind of way, but in a crying every time there was a meal including her favourite Nutella crepes for breakfast kind of way.
Knowing something wasn’t right I had a chat with her and she told me that she didn’t want to eat because if she ate she’d get fat. She was 4!
Imagine being scared of being fat at 4 years old!
Of course I spoke to school about it, knowing they were talking about healthy eating but her teacher assured me they were talking about balance and steered away from the terms ‘bad’ and ‘unhealthy’. She showed me the work they were doing and my mind was put at ease quickly.
So I started to dig through my memory to see if there were any memories of something I may have inadvertently said about myself, but I’d been so so careful. I may not like my body all the time (OK, most of the time), but I became very conscious of my words around her when she was 4 months old.
That weekend at a family friend’s house for dinner I noticed the way they talk, they way they remarked about women’s bodies. How so and so is ‘getting fat’ or how Lady Gaga’s thighs wobbled on stage. It hit me like a double decker bus! Just hearing these things in passing had sunk in to her brain and made her worry about her appearance at the age of 4.
Back to my comment about unwittingly raising bullies though.
Helping your children have a healthy relationship with their body starts with you and your words, and who you choose to spend time with.
Those comments you make about someone’s stretch marks, acne, glasses or ginger hair will stick in your child’s brain and breed hate.
Helping your children to be inclusive of all people starts with you and your words, and those you choose to spend time with.
Those comments you make about people from minority communities will burrow in to your child’s memory and breed hate.
Don’t breed hate.
Be the change you want to see.