Helping Kids Get Excited about their Unique Beauty
We talk a lot about the issue of ‘bullying others’, even dedicating an entire week to it. However, it’s crucial to acknowledge that kids also ‘bully themselves’, creating negative self-talk that can have a lasting impact on their mental and emotional well-being, as well as their confidence.
I’d like to share a personal experience when I found myself going down a self-defeating, self-bullying path.
In grade 8 I represented my school in the running relay at the annual track and field day. After I had competed, a classmate came up to me and blurted, ‘You have big, fat legs.’ I was shocked and hurt.
What my classmate didn’t know was that I was already struggling to like my legs. I used to compare them to my friend’s legs – wishing mine were more like hers. Since my legs were bigger and shorter, I made it mean that mine were not beautiful. Comparing myself to her legs was ridiculous – it wasn’t going to change anything – it certainly wasn’t going to make my legs longer and thinner. Knowing this didn’t stop me from complaining about my legs to my mum.
One day she turned to me and said, ‘Let’s go to the doctor and see if she can cut them off.’ That was a wake-up call for me. Gradually I began to realize that I was wasting so much time and energy bullying myself. I was missing out on the beauty around me, including my own.
If a child you know is struggling with body image challenges, here are a few suggestions on what I did to help me be more appreciative of my body:
1. I found a photo of an Olympic athlete who had big, muscular legs standing proudly on the podium after winning a gold medal. She was happy and proud, not concerned about the size of her legs. That photo, pinned on my wall, inspired me to always remember to have an ‘attitude of gratitude’.
2. I wrote uplifting, encouraging, supportive thoughts and words. I placed them everywhere that I would see them. I repeated them over and over, knowing that the voice I heard the most throughout my day was my own, so I needed my words to be powerful and positive. Two of my favorites: ‘I choose to love and respect myself’ and the word ‘gratitude’.
3. I took the parts of my body that I resented and wrote down all the reasons why I needed to be grateful. For instance, recognizing that my legs allow me to run and walk, wear my favourite boots and take me wherever I want. This exercise played a pivotal role in helping me appreciate and be thankful for my body.
4. I posted photos of myself as a little girl around my room, choosing photos from ages 3 – 8. In these photos I saw a young girl who loved life, who smiled just because she could. She didn’t worry about how much she weighed or how big her legs were. These photos reminded me to treat myself with kindness and compassion
This is what I know: It’s crucial to teach and model to kids the importance of kindness, acceptance and compassion, not only towards others, but also towards themselves.
Until next time…
9 Nov 2023
Empowering Youth in the Digital Age: Important Insights
Since technology is a dominant force in most young people’s lives, it’s important to make sure they learn to navigate this digital environment responsibly because they don’t yet see the impact technology has on their life.
Here’s 4 tips to support your efforts to help kids navigate technology responsibly:
1. Enhanced Emotional Well-being
Reducing exposure to online content, particularly social media, can lessen the negative impact on self-esteem, body image and anxiety. Spending more time interacting face-to-face with peers and adults can foster stronger relationships and help develop essential social skills, such as communication and empathy. Your child will most likely push back and not agree and that’s OK. You can still create and hold your boundary even if they don’t agree. Remember …’their disappointment is not your guilt.’
2. Revealing the Reality
They need to know that what people post online isn’t the whole picture. People often embellish their lives, making their life seem more magnificent than it truly is. It’s crucial to remind kids that nobody’s life is perfect, that everyone experiences challenging circumstances and tough emotions. They also need to understand that their online footprint is permanent, that even deleted content can have lasting consequences. What is cool or funny now, may have negative implications in their future.
3.Keep technology out of the bedroom.
Removing electronic devices from bedrooms, ensures that everyone sleeps better, waking up well rested and ready to focus on the day ahead. Having them in the bedroom, especially phones, is too tempting to check one last message. By ensuring phones are not within reach in the morning, children have the chance to engage with their own thoughts about the day ahead.
4. Set rules for the whole family
Part of good boundary setting is leading by example and being consistent with your own use of technology. Everyone should follow the same rules which include:
Amount of use that is acceptable.
Times when electronics can and can’t be used.
Which programs and apps can be accessed or installed on computers and devices.
Safety and security guidelines.
Behaviours that are and are not appropriate when interacting with others online.
After a recent presentation a grade 11 student shared that she decided to delete her social media accounts because she realized she was basing her self-worth on the number of likes and comments she received on her posts. After only one week of being offline she said she noticed a major increase in her confidence because she was no longer basing her worth on social media and the opinions of others.
Without rules and regulations for digital and online use it’s too easy for kids to get sucked into the online world. Moderation and boundaries are key! In the end it will help safeguard their self-worth and confidence.