There has been much research done into the relationship between a parent's attitude towards their weight and the effect it has on a child's body image. In addition, the research that I did for my Masters study showed that over 50% of 8- and 9-year old girls wanted to be thinner and had already tried to lose weight in the past. Also, the degree to which parents commented on their child's weight was found to have a significant effect on how happy the child was with their bodies.
Therefore the best thing you can do to ensure your child has a healthy weight and body image is to avoid talking about your own weight and avoid commenting on your child's weight. Rather set a good healthy eating example by letting your child see you eating in a balanced way and exercising regularly.
Here are some more tips to improve your child's body image:
- Focus on health – not weight
- Avoid commenting on other people’s weight (e.g. other family members, celebrities, people on TV, etc)
- Exercise together as a family and make it fun
- Get your child involved in cooking - this will improve their attitude towards healthy food
- Encourage healthy snacks
- Limit fast food
- Have healthy treats on hand (e.g. fresh fruit, yoghurt, popcorn, crudites and hummus, etc)
- Don't label food as “good” or “bad”
- Eat meals together as a family - research has shown that this also helps to improve children's attitudes towards healthy food and also makes them more likely to make healthier food choices