Lately, you’ve noticed that your child has been making negative comments about their own body. Alternatively, perhaps they haven’t made any specific remarks out loud. But you’ve realized that they suddenly don’t want to wear their old favorite clothes, or they would prefer to wear a shirt at the pool. You were wondering what prompted these changes. But one day, your child confessed to you that someone made rude comments about their weight or appearance.

If your child was subjected to body shaming, you’re probably feeling upset. No one wants to think of their child being criticized or bullied for something that they can’t control. Unfortunately, body shaming can start at a young age. As a parent, here’s how you can respond to body shaming in a supportive, compassionate way.

Comfort Them

First, take some time to simply comfort your child. Let them know that there is nothing wrong with their body or the way they look. You may need to be their crying shoulder for a few minutes. Allow your child to express their emotions about how body shaming made them feel.

Create space for your child to simply be vulnerable. Be empathetic. Remind them that you love them unconditionally, and nothing anyone says about their body can change that.

Establish That Body Shaming Is Unacceptable

Once your child is feeling calm, you can talk about why body shaming isn’t just benign commentary or a funny joke. It’s a form of bullying, and it isn’t acceptable at any age. If your child’s friends have been making these comments, it may be time to discuss why true friends don’t make such remarks.

If an adult at school or in another setting made a rude comment about your child’s body, you may need to reach out to the relevant authorities to take action. Either way, make sure your child understands that they do not have to spend time around people who speak this way, and they have every right to walk away from situations where body shaming takes place.

Emphasize That No Body Is “Shameful”

Children need to internalize the idea that no bodies are “shameful.” Highlight all of the beautiful things that your child’s body allows them to do. This could mean even the simplest actions, like drawing deep breaths, smiling, or giving a hug.

Remind them that our bodies have nothing to do with our moral value as human beings. Talk about the qualities and traits they have that do carry real value, like being a good friend.

Be a Good Role Model

If your child hears you talking negatively about your own body, they probably won’t take your advice seriously. Be mindful of the way you talk about your body in front of your child, and avoid saying anything derogatory about your appearance.

It’s important to be a good role model in this regard. Be conscious of how you characterize your eating habits, and whether or not you ever restrict food in front of your child.

Consider Reaching Out to Other Adults

Depending on who made body shaming comments towards your child, you may have to reach out to a teacher, counselor, or other authority figure to address the situation. This is particularly true if your child was exposed to body shaming at school or during an extracurricular activity, like a sport. Your child should have to simply accept these comments in what should be a safe space.

Are you unsure of how to support your child who has experienced body shaming? A therapist can give you valuable guidance. Reach out to us to find out more about our child and family therapy options.



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