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How to Create a Positive Body Image for Kids

Jun 10, 2024 | Teach Kids Articles

Do you like the way you look? It’s easy to have a harsh view of our own body and see only flaws in the mirror. Many kids also struggle with having a positive body image. As they grow and their bodies change, they can become uncomfortable with themselves. Add that to the views of the media and their peers, and once happy, carefree kids may become self-conscious or insecure. Like most things, your words can have a huge impact on how they view themselves—either feeding into those insecurities, or encouraging a positive body image for kids. Here are three godly truths you can teach children to help instill a positive body image for kids.

1. Teach Kids They’re Created in God’s Image

The first thing all children should take to heart for a positive body image for kids is that God lovingly created you in His image. Each person was tenderly made by God to be special and unique in their own way. No one was meant to look or act alike—having differences is good! If all of creation was the same, what a boring world we’d live in.

Do the kids in your life see themselves as unique, special, and worthy of celebrating for their differences? Or do they struggle with having a positive body image because they would rather look the same as others? Genesis 1:27 says “God created man and woman in His image.” While this doesn’t necessarily mean that all of God looks like all of us (as the Bible tells us that God is also spirit), we are created with elements of God in our appearance, and that is a beautiful thing. Talk with kids about what it means to be made in God’s image and ask them to list the ways in which people are different from the rest of creation. Building a positive body image for kids means reminding them that it’s also His image they see in the mirror.

Going Deeper

As you begin to cultivate a positive body image for kids, keep in mind that there may be other issues going on that’s causing their insecurity or discomfort. Sometimes kids react to problems at home or at school by punishing themselves, while hating their body can also be an unfortunate symptom of trauma for abused children. If a child is showing signs of self-loathing, try to discover what is really going on at the root before you address building a positive body image for kids.

God is more powerful than any disease or disability, or the hurtful thoughts and feelings kids may have about the way they look. Help kids see that God loves them, no matter how they look. At every opportunity, tell a child, “I’m pleased with you, and I know God is pleased with you too!” Try to not connect that statement to their looks or to anything they’ve done. God takes pleasure in people, His creation, just because we exist and He made us wonderfully!

2. Focus on Inward Beauty

The second truth to teach a positive body image for kids is that God looks at the heart, not the body. This means God looks at our character, how we treat others, and at our desire to please Him. 1 Samuel 16:7 says, “Man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” Outward beauty is truly only skin deep. Even a beautiful person can appear ugly if their words and actions are mean or self-centered. While taking care of the body God created for you is good, obsession with the physical can distract us from what’s truly important: cultivating good character and a kind heart.

Going Deeper

Just as we were made in God’s image, the Bible also says that our bodies are a temple. Exercise, good hygiene, and healthy eating habits are important because God gave us a body to house our spirit so we need to take care of it. But bodies can be scarred from accidents, diseases, disabilities, and changes from growing older. Teach kids to look beyond the physical and to care about a person’s character and heart. Remind kids that even healthy habits can become unhealthy when we only do them so others think we look good. A fun activity you can do is put messages on mirrors using a dry erase marker, writing statements like: “God made you special” or “God looks at the heart.”

3. Understand That Worldly Beauty Changes

Last but not least, a positive body image for kids also comes with an understanding that while the standards for worldly beauty might change, God’s standards are forever. Ever heard the phrase “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”? This phrase reminds us that people have always had different views on beauty—the cultural standards of what’s considered attractive continually changing with the times, from clothes and the way people dress, to different body types. Play a fun game with kids to test this by looking at fashion pictures from various past decades and ask them what they think about it now.

While the standards for worldly beauty might change, remind kids that God’s standards never change. He loves people selflessly and unconditionally, no matter what they look like. To Him, we are all His most beautiful creation. Psalm 139:13-14 says, “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” Encourage kids to love others the way God loves them, taking turns listing ways you find others beautiful that don’t include what they look like.

Going Deeper

At the core of it, people were made to have a relationship with God. We were made to bring Him glory by enjoying His creation; growing closer with Him as we participate in it. God gave us thoughts, desires, and a will for a reason. He gave us the ability to appreciate beauty, compose music, create new languages, and understand the difference between right and wrong, making decisions based on ethics instead of just what makes our body feel good.

The point is, there is so much more to you than your body! No matter what their outward appearance may be like, God has a special purpose for each person. And the key to a positive body image for kids lies in focusing not on what they look like, but what they can do with that body to enjoy the life they’ve been given and bring glory to God. Every kid is a genius in their own way, that “genius” might just be in a different part of their brain than the next person. For a positive body image for kids, help children feel encouraged to explore, create, and enjoy the world around them and their own, unique, God-given talents.

This content is from the CEF podcast Teach Kids.  Listen to more content like this on the Teach Kids podcast through your favorite podcast platform.  #TeachKids #KidsMin

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