Just the other day, my daughter was told her teeth were weird. Right in front of me. On the way to school. By one of her closest friends. Stones fell in my heart.
Her teeth are extremely crooked and large and her ‘fangs’ are growing up above the rest of her teeth.
I could see her hurt. I could see her shut down and get a bit smaller.
I couldn’t say anything there and then because I knew she needed to handle this herself without mum stepping in (Oh My God How Embarrassing!). She’s ten. Not three.
That night I sat on her bed and asked: How did that make you feel?
I told her how much it hurts me if someone makes fun of my body.
Then I told her that humans, for some reason, have a long history of being a bit mean to each other. I don’t know a single person who hasn’t got something they don’t like about themselves, or feel self conscious about.
Then I told her even though it feels hard when someone makes fun of us, I know she’s going to be okay because she can handle hard things. She’ll figure out how to respond, if she wants to, and I’m there to help if she needs it.
Learning how to have these conversations – without rushing in and trying to fix her hurt – hasn’t come easily to me. It’s taken years of reading, learning, trial and error. But they have made such a difference to the way our family talk about food/weight/bodies I want to share what I’ve learned with parents who care. Having the nuance and understanding of how to draw your darlings out and help them find their own confidence is priceless.
If you’d like to master the art of talking bodies, food and weight in your family, so everyone is happier, I hope you’ll check out the Raising Body Confident Kids online course.
It’s a pleasure to support you on your parenting journey.