Self-esteem, self worth and body image can play a huge role in your child’s life as they mature. Our children are always watching the way in which we and other adults interact with the world around us. This observance shapes how they interact with their peers, and those in positions of authority as well as how they think about themselves.

The way that you talk about yourself and others is just as important as the way that you talk about your child to your child. “Low self-esteem, specifically poor body image, is associated with increased tobacco and alcohol use, according to recent research,” says Parent Talk blog. If a child doubts themselves, their abilities and their self-worth they are more likely to feel depressed and that depression can lead to unhealthy coping habits as they grow up. These unhealthy coping methods are the reason that increased self-esteem and affirmative words and actions are so important in the early development of your child’s life.

Some ways that we suggest supporting positive self-esteem include complimenting physical features, in a healthy way, and not criticizing their looks. Limit access to media and its distorted perceptions of what “beautiful” is. Teach your children healthy eating habits, encourage physical activity as a pastime, but not a way to lose weight and make sure they stay well rested. Important things to remember when talking about body image with your child is that they should know that physical appearance is not a determinant of self-worth. Emphasizing the importance of not only physical appearance, but also intellect and self-identity is just as important as making your child feel beautiful.

There are many fine lines to walk when approaching the subject of body image with your child, but providing them with a supportive and encouraging environment to try new activities or adventures, despite the outcome, and embracing each child’s uniqueness is a way to help him/her to develop a strong sense of self-worth and therefore a higher level of self esteem.