Mom To Mom: How To Create A Positive Body Image For Your Kids

In a world where image is everything, raising young girls can be an entirely overwhelming experience. It seems that their focus on their looks shows up earlier than expected, and body dysmorphia can be a real issue before they even hit middle school. I am a mom of two girls, one being five, and the other being an impressionable ten. 

Now, my ten year old has never been too obsessed about her looks. She cared more about comfort and being able to do cartwheels in her clothes than if they were up to date on the current trends. She is also big on texture, so anything that was itchy or tight does not work for her.

With her being in the fourth grade, she is right at that age where her mindset will start to shift to put more emphasis on her looks. Finding your identity is part of growing up, but in a world where the pressure is at an all-time high, how do we guide them in the right direction? I’ve listed below some techniques I use with my daughters to help guide their perspective on their image in a healthy direction. 

Start with Yourself 

How you speak to yourself and about yourself around others showcases to your daughters how to view themselves. Trust me, they’re watching you like a hawk.

Be kind to yourself, and don’t be afraid to show it. Focus on your health and wellness, and be sure to make time for it in your busy schedule. Don’t fall to trendy diets or anything drastic to see results, as kids will pick up on that and possibly attempt it themselves. Focus on natural and gradual energy towards your goals.

Watch Your Language 

No, I don’t mean profanity, although that should also be avoided. What I mean is the way in which you compliment your child’s appearance and the wording you use, both of which have a big impact on how they see themselves. 

For example, rather than saying, “You look pretty in that dress,” you could say, “That dress really brings out the blue tones in your eyes!” Both focus on the dress, but only one puts emphasis on the value of someone’s appearance. 

Focus on alternative compliments on appearance, like how strong they are or how beautiful their smile is. Simply shifting where you spotlight the attention will still make them feel special, without putting too much emphasis on how “pretty” they are.

Encourage Positive Friendships

There is a saying that goes, “We are a combination of the five people we surround ourselves with the most”. How well do you know the friends your child hangs with? My oldest daughter has a core circle of the same few friends. I’ve been around these young ladies a few times, and based on my interactions with them, they’re just like my daughter! Super goofy, full of laughter, and with good hearts. 

Although we cannot control who our children become friends with, if we feel a certain friend may be more of a bad influence than good, we can be extra alert. If you notice your daughter is paying more attention to how she dresses, or how much she weighs, or adding makeup to her routine, this may be because of a new influential friend. It’s nothing to be concerned about because this is a part of growing up — the important thing is that their friends are only magnifying their self confidence.

Monitor Social Media Use

This is a tough one, because it feels like it could be an invasion of privacy. Social media is a monster when it comes to creating a positive body image, especially in adolescents. You can filter anything nowadays to look real, so the beauty standard has become completely unrealistic in such a short time. From influencers living the most lavish lifestyles, to young women flaunting hacks for beauty and wellness that can oftentimes be unsafe, it’s quite literally the scariest place ever. 

As a mom who just allowed her daughter to start a TikTok, I am watching over that account more than any account I follow. I also have parental control in her settings that blocks her from a lot of content and also blocks others from being able to follow her. I was lucky enough to have a daughter who didn’t fight me on the matter, she simply just wanted access to create fun videos. As she gets older, I know she will want to have more social media platforms, and I will need to decide when that is appropriate. 

It is completely OK to follow or be friends with your children on social media. Depending on their age, it is also OK to have full control over their settings and passwords and what they can and cannot do. I don’t even need to go too much into detail about just why social media can be an unsafe and scary place for children and young teens, so no matter the path you choose with your own children, just don’t turn a blind eye. Have an open line of communication with each other, and don’t be afraid that you are invading their privacy. Their safety is more important than anything as well as the things they watch.

Talk To Them 

Whether it’s talking about puberty, their bodies, or even “the talk,” it’s important to keep a regular conversation going with your child. If you make it a regular thing, your child will be more comfortable talking to you about things like unrealistic social media body image issues or even their own bodies. These types of conversations can go a long way in helping them become comfortable with who they are, and that bond will allow them to feel more comfortable coming to you rather than going to a friend or the Internet.




Your child or teen still needs a strong relationship with you, and this topic can be something that can bond you together, rather than making your relationship uncomfortable. Our bodies change so much during this time, and they need someone who they trust more than anything to not only answer questions they may have but give helpful advice as well. 

This time for them can be a weird one, but providing an environment that breeds a healthy body image can go a long way. You know your child or teen better than anyone, and there may be some red flags that you might be in touch with that may cause you to be concerned. Some of those may be:

  • Obsessing over counting calories or possibly hearing them throw up.

  • You may notice food stashed away somewhere.

  • They obsess over working out and staying in shape.

  • They lose interest in their usual activities or their grades start to suffer.

  • They become more socially withdrawn or hang with a different crowd. 

If you are genuinely concerned about your teen or child’s health, contact their primary care doctor or a licensed behavioral health specialist. You may need a bit more help than a conversation or two, and you don’t need to do this alone. If it has not reached that point, you do not need to wait for a moment of concern to start chatting. Open up the line of conversation early, and they will come to you naturally.


How do you promote body positivity with your family? Share your best advice in the comments below!

Read More Mom To Mom:

Join the Conversation