Raising kids to love their whole body

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Adults often dismiss the idea that children even as young as five or six are thinking about the way they look.

Daily we see children running around, playing as all kids should, but it’s not until one day when a tiny voice comes from below, saying, for instance, ‘Why is my tummy so big?’ that a parent or guardian may realise that this is an issue of concern. What would you say at that moment? It’s a tricky one, as a negative body image even at a young age can have serious effects as children grow.

Here, we look at tips for parents and guardians in promoting a healthy body image in their children, and how pharmacy assistants can best equip their customers in this regard.

Consequences of poor body image 

Having a poor body image at a young age can have lifelong implications, which can be dire, says the Better Health Channel. If body dissatisfaction isn’t addressed as soon as possible, it can lead to a number of health concerns, such as the development of eating disorders, including anorexia, bulimia and binge eating. It can also increase the likelihood of mental health concerns, such as low self-esteem, anxiety and depression.1

It’s been proven that even if a child’s diet is at a ‘moderate’ level, there’s a risk of developing an eating disorder, as restrictive eating can lead to negative thoughts surrounding food.1

Tips for parents and guardians 

What children see, children do, so it’s crucial that parents and guardians hold themselves accountable in loving and taking care of their own bodies, so their kids can follow suit.

According to the Butterfly Foundation, the following are some ways parents and guardians can lead by example and help ensure their child develops love for their own body.2

  • Love and accept your own body, first. As mentioned, parents and guardians should be aware of how they talk about their own bodies and be conscious of the message they’re spreading.
  • Don’t talk about diets.Dieting is known to be one of the biggest risk factors for eating disorders. Parents and guardians should try to avoid talking about diets and labelling foods as ‘naughty’ or ‘bad’.
  • Open a conversation. Starting conversations with kids and creating safe spaces where they feel comfortable in being honest about the way they’re feeling about their body will enable them to express their needs and thoughts, so any feelings that they may have are not hidden.

 Signs to watch for 

 The Butterfly Foundation suggests the following could indicate that a child may be feeling less confident:2

  • Being withdrawn from social settings and activities they previously enjoyed.
  • Having a fixation on diets or being ‘healthier’ or ‘fitter’, so much so that this becomes obsessive.
  • Being irritable or anxious as dinner time approaches.
  • Using negative phrases, such as ‘I’m ugly’ or ‘I’m fat’.
  • Experiencing frequent change in weight or rapid weight loss.
  • Adopting a baggier clothing style, or choosing to wear oversized clothes.

 Tips for pharmacy assistants 

Be aware of resources and organisations in this space to recommend, such as the Butterfly Foundation, that are available to provide professional help for concerned parents or guardians. Additionally, you should suggest, where appropriate, that they contact their GP.

As a pharmacy assistant, if you’re equipped with the warning signs around poor body image and are aware of some tips and tricks that parents and guardians may use, you’ll be able to comfortably help customers with body image queries.


  1. Better Health Channel. ‘Body image and diets’. betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/body-image-and-diets
  2.      The Butterfly Foundation. ‘Body image tips for parents’. butterfly.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/Body-Image-Tips-for-Parents.pdf