We’re proudly backing Mental Health Awareness Week (Monday 13 – Sunday 19 May). This year’s theme is body positivity. It would be great if you could join us and get involved on social media. Share a post or photograph about what you love about your body using the hashtag #BeBodyKind.
To help families and young people our experts have also created some hints and tips around food, self-esteem and communication, which you may find useful:
Set a positive example of a healthy and balanced relationship with food:
- If you label food as ‘good’ and ‘bad’ or focus on constant dieting, it encourages young people that eating is bad and that avoiding food is good;
- If the word ‘fat’ is used negatively, it can make young people feel that being ‘fat’ will also make them unlikeable.
Help children accept and enjoy their bodies and encourage physical activity:
- Love, accept, acknowledge, appreciate and value your children and young people out loud—no matter what they weigh;
- Make sure they know that weight and appearance are not the most critical aspects of their identity and self-worth;
- Show appreciation for diversity and respect for nature.
- Showing children that they are valued and loved unconditionally can help them to improve their self-worth;
- With self-worth and self-esteem, they are better prepared to face scars and trauma.
Encourage open communication and teach children how to communicate:
- Give them the power and confidence to say ‘no’ to pressures to conform and to accept that they are unique individuals.
Encourage critical thinking:
- The antidote to conforming to what we see in the media, on social media and via peer pressure is the ability to think critically;
- Encourage young people to challenge what they see on social media;
- Provide a listening ear so that they can talk to you about the pressures they see, hear and feel to diet and ‘look good’.
Develop a value system based on internal values:
- Help children to understand the importance of linking personal worth to traits like care and concern for others, wisdom, loyalty and fairness rather than looks.
Teach children about good relationships and how to deal with difficulties when they arise:
- People sometimes use food to express or numb themselves, instead of dealing with feelings or relationships;
- Encourage young people to focus upon managing their feelings and relationships, rather than thinking that the ‘perfect body’ will solve all their problems.