Our children start learning the minute they’re born. They observe us, imitate us, figure out the world around them from cues both verbal and non-verbal. And, our daughters–even preschool age daughters–are learning about body image from us!
If you feel like you’ve got some work to do in this department, personally, don’t worry. You’re not alone. But, let me encourage you not to wait until your daughter is old enough to have conversations about body image to start modeling health for her.
Here are some suggestions to help your preschool daughter with body image:
1. Teach her where value is derived.
This is especially hard with young children. We want to reward them for good behavior. They learn that acting a certain way helps them earn favor with you. Little girls who like to please, also may learn that looking a certain way when they leave the house helps them garner positive attention.
2. Show them that you accept them, no matter what.
The best way to reinforce the message that God accepts them just as they are is for you to do the same. Sure, you may want her to wash her hands before dinner or wear matching clothes when you leave the house. But, try to send messages that your daughter is “unacceptable” unless she does these things. Don’t treat her like she’s an ‘unloveable’ just because she’s covered in dirt or hasn’t brushed her hair in a few days. Instead, encourage her to take care of her hygiene issues while reminding her that she’s loved. “Sweetheart, I love how creative you are with your clothing choices–but we’re going to church this morning so we’ll need to wear an outfit that matches. Can mommy help you pick something out?” Sounds a whole lot better than “Change your clothes. You can’t go out in public looking like that! You’ll embarrass us all!”