Self image in young children

Discussion in 'The Fire Hydrant' started by stafinois, Oct 29, 2012.

  1. stafinois

    stafinois Professional Nerd

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    My niece (who turned 5 last month) is already crying about being worried that she is fat. This makes me very, VERY uncomfortable not only for her own well being but for potential influence over Sydney (5 next month). I have no idea who is telling her this, but if I find out, I may punch them in the throat. I have no idea how to handle this.

    I have a terrible feeling that her own parents may not be completely innocent in this, and at best, are doing little to discourage it. I've heard them make comments about their 8yo son's weight. My niece points out people and says they are fat because they eat too much, and she won't ever be fat.

    I know I can't keep Syd in a bubble, but this is so not cool, and I don't know what to do.
     
  2. sparks19

    sparks19 I'd rather be at Disney

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    Oh gosh I am so sorry. I can't imagine this at an age where they should be so carefree and innocent.

    The only thing I can think of is to promote how beautiful she is and then go on to say how her kindness and such is beautiful. The stuff INSIDE! I tell Hannah she is so beautiful all the time but then make sure to tell her that she is not only beautifil on the outside with her big beautiful smile but list the things that make her so much more beautiful inside.

    Another idea is if sheenyions being fat or other people being fat in front of you... Call her on it. Ask her flat out why she thinks that is a bad thing? Why does she think those people are fat because they eat too much, why does she CARE if they are fat? Ask her to answer for her feelings about this or just talk about them.
     
  3. release the hounds

    release the hounds Active Member

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    I"m not one for pointing things out, nor hiding from the fact that our country has a serious, serious weight problem. I go to grocery stores, I see what people are loading their carts with. I drive by the fast food restaurants and see how packed they are, I go out to eat and see how much people are eating. I think most approach it from a shitty perspective. Rather than focusing on health and doing healthy things (you'll weight what you should weigh and be healthy) and then nothing else really matters.

    Instead most just focus on fat or skinny, most of which results in unhealthy people. So many people doing unhealthy things to be skinny which kind of defeats the purpose.

    Not saying this is the case in your situation, just a general observation. Some kids get told mean things from kids, parents, parents of friends, all sorts of people. But kids don't miss anything, even when you think they aren't listening and can't even hear you, they do :) and always the stuff you don't want them too. It could be something as innocent as a parent saying, "man I'm getting fat and suddenly the kid is saying things about him/her being fat because they heard their parent saying it.
     
  4. Renee750il

    Renee750il Felurian

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    Great advice, Sparks :)
     
  5. milos_mommy

    milos_mommy Active Member

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    I saw this right before power went out and wanted to respond, lol. Tanya's response is great :)

    I wrote a research paper last year on how their parents have a much, much, much bigger effect on self-image in children than barbies, disney princesses, MTV, etc. all put together. It's possible she's picking it up at school or something, but I can almost guarantee her mom or another close relative is talking about "dieting", being "too fat", pointing out and judging people about their weight.

    Point out to Sydney that this isn't a nice behavior. She can love and respect her cousin and still know that she doesn't always behave correctly. Talk about healthy eating and staying in shape...don't talk about losing weight and looking "hot". Talk about how being terribly overweight is unhealthy, and so is being too skinny. Point out people with different body types who are admirable people, have qualities you want to instill, etc.

    Do the same with your niece when you get the chance :) Remind her there are much, much, much worse things to be in the world than "fat".
     
  6. sparks19

    sparks19 I'd rather be at Disney

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    This is good advice too

    I am very mindful about not putting myself down in front of Hannah. I try not to put myself down at anytime but especially in front of Hannah. I don't want her to think that looking in the mirror and hating on yourself is the norm.
     
  7. Kilter

    Kilter New Member

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    I agree, focus on healthy over fat. I wouldn't model behavior that is damaging, like looking in the mirror and saying 'oh, I'm so fat, I hate myself' or other things. If the niece is seeing her parents pick on her brother for being fat, I would take the parents aside and say something about it - it's NOT going to help him at all and isn't helping her either. Suggest that as a family they make some changes and focus on health, it's not hard to do.

    We've made changes as a family to eat better, and the kids are picking up on the 'habit' as well. My seven year old had the option of pb and J or tossed salad for lunch, he chose salad. He doesn't take a juice box anymore, but gets water or the flavored water instead. His lunch still has 'crap' in it, along with the salad he took a halloween pack of chips and a mini chocolate bar and so on, but oh well. After school we're going to walk to the store, he can pick out a treat with his money, but then at home if he's hungry, it's veggies or fruit. I make sure that half the plate at dinner for everyone is veggies too and they have to eat those before they get anything else.

    Maybe making some changes and modeling that to the niece and nephew and their parents would help too?
     
  8. milos_mommy

    milos_mommy Active Member

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    Another note - when exposing your kids to the media, princesses, etc....make sure to point out the qualities THEY have that aren't physical and emphasize them..."Cinderella is so kind to the animals", "Princess Tiana is such a hard worker and it really pays off" etc. Even if your kid want to dress up and play princess, don't focus on "being a pretty princess" or "waiting for prince charming", instead encourage them to use their imagination to create a problem in their kingdom they have to solve, etc.
     

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