We live in a world that is obsessed with the external. Everyday, your child is exposed to media that bombards her with images of skinny girls pretending to be overjoyed with their malnourishment. It's no wonder girls as young as 8 or even 6 years old are already concerned about their weight! And this concern should get you concerned.
An article in Breezy Mama addresses how you can help your child have a healthy body image, with tips from pediatrician Dr. Chrystal de Freitas:
BODY IMAGE: TIPS FOR HELPING YOUR CHILD HAVE A HEALTHY ONE
After hearing two six year olds ask one another if they look fat, what would you have recommended I had said?
Children need to be taught that a person’s value is not based on whether they are fat, or on how they look but on how they behave towards others and themselves.
In addition remind children that everyone is different and that our bodies are gifts to them from their parents. Encourage children to find their unique characteristic. This could be that they are funny, athletic, smart, caring and innumerable other traits that make part of our human nature. Nurture that along with a good diet and a healthy portion of exercise.
For moms with older children, what signs should they look for that could indicate an eating disorder?
Signs of an eating disorder may be very subtle and often go unnoticed for months. If your child is experiencing a rapid weight loss, always makes an excuse for not eating, starts to use baggy clothing (as a way to hide the weight loss), plays with his/her food shifting it around in the plate but not eating it – all of these can be red flags. You may also notice an almost obsessive compulsion to exercise. In the more extreme cases, a girl may miss her period, feel light headed and complain of temperature changes – being too cold. These are just a few of the many signs of an eating disorder.
What steps should they take if they suspect their child may have one?
You should visit your health care provider and be open with your concerns. Periodic weight checks and close follow up with a mental health professional may be needed as well as with a nutritionist.
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PONDER, PONDER, PONDER...
Have you ever noticed such behavior from your children? How did you deal with it? Do you think a parent's self-esteem will impact how his/her own children will see themselves?