Going Beyond Being An Example

Welcome to the October 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Instilling a Healthy Self-Image

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared confessions, wisdom, and goals for helping children love who they are. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


I’m not sure if this is naivete on my part or not, but a part of me wants to answer the question, “How do you instill a healthy self-image in your children?” with simply being a healthy example.  It’s part of the answer, for sure, as the next question for this month’s carnival is, “What do they learn from the way you treat and talk about your own body and others?”  So instead of writing about being a healthy example, I’ll be expanding to specific ideas that I have for the future.

I have one daughter, who’s three, and one on the way, due in late December.  So I feel that it’s important for me to have ideas for their girlhood- and teenage years because there will be a lot of estrogen in the house!

1. Emphasize positives- not only about her body, but her mind and spirit.
I remember in third grade needing to draw a self portrait and writing what I liked most about myself.  I also remember this being hard to come up with.  It’s not that I had too many things to choose from, it was coming up with anything.  I ended up writing down “my hair”.  There’s nothing wrong with that, and in fact, I’ve never colored or altered my hair in anyway, so I guess I really do like my hair!  I just wonder how I thought of myself back then and hope that my daughters have more fun choosing their favorite quality about themselves when they’re eight.

Indulging in Spaghetti Ice-Cream together, yum!

2. Eat family dinners.
Besides spending quality time as a family and giving more opportunities for communication, this will also model healthy eating habits.  Hopefully it will show eating in moderation and the correct proportions of vegetables, protein and carbohydrates on the dinner plate.  Not every dinner will be perfect, but eating together will help promote a healthy, basic knowledge of nutrition.

Thanksgiving dinner, 2009

3. Keep Busy.
This one is especially important for teenagers.  My teenage years were full of homework, extracurricular clubs, orchestra, music lessons, volunteering at an elementary school and at a city historical museum, and at the time I participated in church meetings/activities as well.  There is no doubt that I was self-centered even though I was fairly busy.  However, my goal in helping my girls keep busy isn’t really to see past themselves (which volunteering and socializing with like-minded peers does help), but to keep the focus off superficiality and onto doing, not just being.  Working hard in their subjects, their passions (whatever they may be), and volunteering helps to find yourself, but in the ways that count– developing talents, learning new things, and contributing to the community.

As a mother, I can’t be naive.  I do need to remember what it was like when I was a kid.  As a ten-year-old, I had a conversation with a friend about dieting.  I watched Days of Our Lives with my mom and had mentioned bulimia to my friend, something that a character was going through on the show.  Nothing came from it.  My friend didn’t become bulimic, but even in my sheltered childhood, there were classmates who did have body issues and were thinking about how to combat that.  Example is a big part of instilling a healthy body image in my children, but there are so many other influences in their lives, that I need to pay attention and communicate with them about everything.


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be updated by afternoon October 9 with all the carnival links.)

  • Why I Walk Around Naked — Meegs at A New Day talks about how she embraces her own body so that her daughter might embrace hers.
  • What I Am Is Not Who I Am — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama discusses her views on the importance of modeling WHO she is for her daughter and not WHAT she sees in the mirror.
  • Carnival of Natural Parenting: Verbs vs. Adjectives — Alisha at Cinnamon & Sassafras tries hard to compliment what her son does, not who he is.
  • The Naked Family — Sam at Love Parenting talks about how nudity and bodily functions are approached in her home.
  • How She’ll See Herself — Rosemary at Rosmarinus Officinalis discusses some of the challenges of raising a daughter in our culture and how she’s hoping to overcome them.
  • Self Esteem and all it’s pretty analogies — Musings from Laura at Pug in the Kitchen on what she learned about self-esteem in her own life and how it applies to her parenting.
  • Beautiful — Tree at Mom Grooves writes about giving her daughter the wisdom to appreciate her body and how trying to be a role model taught Tree how to appreciate her own.
  • Do As I Say, Not As I Do: Nurturing A Healthy Body Image — Christy at Eco Journey in the Burbs is changing perceptions about her body so that she may model living life with a positive, healthy body image for her three young daughters.
  • Some{BODY} to LoveKate Wicker has faced her own inner demons when it comes to a poor body image and even a clinical eating disorder, and now she wants to help her daughters to be strong in a world that constantly puts girls at risk for losing their true selves. This is Kate’s love letter to her daughters reminding them to not only accept their bodies but to accept themselves as well in every changing season of life.
  • They Make Creams For That, You Know — Destany at They Are All of Me writes about celebrating her natural beauty traits, especially the ones she passed onto her children.
  • New Shoes for Mama — Kellie of Our Mindful Life, guest posting at Natural Parents Network, is getting some new shoes, even though she is all grown up…
  • Raising boys with bodily integrity — Lauren at Hobo Mama wants her boys to understand their own bodily autonomy — so they’ll respect their own and others’.
  • Sowing seeds of self-love in our children — After struggling to love herself despite growing up in a loving family, Shonnie at Heart-Led Parenting has suggestions for parents who truly want to nurture their children’s self-esteem.
  • Subtle Ways to Build a Healthy Self-Image — Emily at S.A.H.M i AM discusses the little things she and her husband do every day to help their daughter cultivate a healthy self-image.
  • On Barbie and Baby Bikinis: The Sexualization of Young Girls — Justine at The Lone Home Ranger finds it difficult to keep out the influx of messages aimed at her young daughters that being sexy is important.
  • Undistorted — Focusing on the beauty and goodness that her children hold, Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children watches them grow, loved and undistorted.
  • Off The Hook — Arpita at Up, Down and Natural sheds light on the journey of infertility, and how the inability to get pregnant and stay pregnant takes a toll on self image…only if you let it. And that sometimes, it feels fantastic to just let yourself off the hook.
  • Going Beyond Being An Example — Becky at Old New Legacy discusses three suggestions on instilling healthy body image: positivity, family dinners, and productivity.
  • Raising a Confident Kid — aNonymous at Radical Ramblings describes the ways she’s trying to raise a confident daughter and to instil a healthy attitude to appearance and self-image.
  • Instilling a Healthy Self Image — Laura at This Mama’s Madness hopes to promote a healthy self-image in her kids by treating herself and others with respect, honesty, and grace.
  • Stories of our Uniqueness — Casey at Sesame Seed Designs looks for a connection to the past and celebrates the stories our bodies can tell about the present.
  • Helping My Boy Build a Healthy Body Image — Lyndsay at ourfeminist{play}school offers readers a collection of tips and activities that she uses in her journey to helping her 3-year-old son shape a healthy body image.
  • Eat with Joy and Thankfulness: A Letter to my Daughters about Food — Megan at The Boho Mama writes a letter to her daughters about body image and healthy attitudes towards food.
  • Helping Our Children Have Healthy Body Images — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares information about body image, and her now-adult daughter tells how she kept a healthy body image through years of ballet and competitive figure skating.
  • Namaste — Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment shares how at barely 6 years old, her daughter has begun to say, “I’m not beautiful.” And while it’s hard to listen to, she also sees it as a sign her daughter is building her self-image in a grassroots kind of way.
  • 3 Activities to Help Instill a Healthy Self-Image in Your Child — Explore the changing ideals of beauty, create positive affirmations, and design a self-image awareness collage. Dionna at Code Name: Mama shares these 3 ideas + a pretty affirmation graphic you can print and slip in your child’s lunchbox.
  • Beautiful, Inside and Out — It took a case of adult-onset acne for Kat of MomeeeZen to find out her parenting efforts have resulted in a daughter that is truly beautiful, inside and out.
  • Mirroring Positive Self Image for Toddlers — Shannon at GrowingSlower reflects on encouraging positive self image in even the youngest members of the family.
  • How I hope to instill a healthy body image in my two girls — Raising daughters with healthy body image in today’s society is no small task, but Xela at The Happy Hippie Homemaker shares how choosing our words carefully and being an example can help our children learn to love their bodies.
  • Self Image has to Come from WithinMomma Jorje shares all of the little things she does to encourage healthy attitudes in her children, but realizes she can’t give them their self images.
  • Protecting the Gift — JW from True Confessions of a Real Mommy wants you to stop thinking you need to boost your child up: they think they are wonderful all on their own.
  • Learning to Love Myself, for my Daughter — Michelle at Ramblings of Mitzy addresses her own poor self-image.
  • Nurturing An Innate Sense of Self — Marisa at Deliberate Parenting shares her efforts to preserve the confidence and healthy sense of self they were born with.
  • Don’t You Love Me, Mommy?: Instilling Self-Esteem in Young Children After New Siblings Arrive — Jade at Seeing Through Jade Glass But Dimly hopes that her daughter will learn to value herself as an individual rather than just Momma’s baby
  • Exercising is FUN — Amy W. at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work talks about modeling for her children that exercising is FUN and good for body and soul.
  • Poor Little Chicken — Kenna at A Million Tiny Things gets her feathers ruffled over her daughter’s clothing anxiety.
  • Loving the skin she’s in — Mama Pie at Downside Up and Outside In struggles with her little berry’s choice not to celebrate herself and her heritage.
  • Perfect the Way I Am — Erika at Cinco de Mommy struggles — along with her seven-year-old daughter — at telling herself she’s perfect just the way she is.

About fraurab

A Germanophile, who is figuring out how to build her strengths through improving her mind, body and soul.
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6 Responses to Going Beyond Being An Example

  1. I love your point on family dinners. We never had family dinners while growing up, but now that I have a family, I find the family dinner to be one of the most important parts of the day. I love your point of view on this topic, very well said.

  2. Arpita says:

    Great post, and kuddos to you for being so “on the ball” with it with your your girl(s). :) Eating family dinners every night together was always a non-negotiable in our house and that uninteruppted time with the family is something I so much cherish and something my hubs and I do now, and will most certainly continue with our littles. Even if on the odd night growing up that we just ordered pizza and with a homemade salad on the side, it was good to sit down with the family and have that time for connection, and it definitely did teach me about proper eating – but also that lots of great times can be had with people you love over a great meal. To this day I LOVE having people over for dinner and I think our family dinners had a big part to play in that.

  3. I agree — example is really important, but going beyond that is important, too! I feel like my parents modeled a healthy self-image pretty well, but I’d love to have heard them talk more about what they loved about themselves. Thanks for these ideas, too!

  4. Wow. I had the same thought initially about this topic… that it was sort of simple. But I managed to go on and on….
    I love what you’ve written here.
    I love the family dinner idea and the positive activities and being a big part of keeping a positive focus.
    This is just lovely. So simple and so profound.

  5. Being involved with our kids as they grow is very important, in my opinion. Many, many things are going to influence them, positively or negatively, actively or passively, and I want to be there to listen, to bounce ideas off of, and to support.

  6. Dionna Ford says:

    So much of my self-image comes from the activities I was involved in growing up. Interestingly, this is the first (of about 20) posts I’ve read this carnival to discuss it! I will definitely encourage my children to volunteer, to be involved in our community, to find their passions – I hope that they grow with those experiences just as I did.
    ~Dionnna @ CodeNameMama.com

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