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This is a topic that will always be close to my heart. It’s part of the reason my focus changed so much when it came to working with my clients, from one of weight focused, to energy, strength, body image and mental health.

I’ve written about it before, and this is not likely to be the last time.

Now that our girl is a little older (9…AND A HALF, you mustn’t forget the half), it’s even more obvious, but this isn’t specifically about girls. The same goes for all kids, of course.

Our kids are ALWAYS listening. Even when we think they aren’t.

Let’s back the truck up a bit, first.

I was a little chunky growing up. I was active, I was healthy, but I was chubby. Especially around those early teenage years. Never overweight, but bigger than a lot of my friends.

As a young kid in the 80’s, I never gave it too much thought. There was no You Tube to warp my body image, and being fat was barely even on our radar.

When I was about 10, though, a close relative (not my parents) decided I needed to be told, on more than one occasion, and often in front of other people, that I was fat and needed to lose weight. Another family member felt the need to tell me the same when I was about 15. These contributed to years of thinking that I was fat. I went through a few phases of really restricted eating, super low calories, and it wasn’t healthy. Now that I’m older, I know I can’t blame all of my body image issues over the years on these times, but it definitely didn’t help!

Behind the scenes, my mind was a mess, and I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t still there, I’m just better at knowing that people’s opinions aren’t always facts and I’m my own person now.

18 year old me. Not remotely overweight. Totally convinced I was massive and shouldn’t be eating.

When I became a parent, and particularly when we had our daughter, I swore to myself that she would never be subjected to that. I knew what it could do to a kid to hear that from anyone, let alone someone you loved, and I would make sure she never had to deal with that.

Our girl is super fixated on stuff. As an example, she did an afternoon of fire safety at school, she came home upset that day and we’ve since had 2 straight years of her being terrified of house fires, refusing a heater in her room in case it catches fire and we don’t know about it. Anything she hears that worries her, it becomes gospel. She doesn’t need to feel like that when someone comments on her body.

As she heads towards those tweenage years, her body is quickly changing, and she’s already bought it up a few times recently, especially when “friends” comment, and kids at school call her names. But she’s a dancer, and she’s super strong for her age as well. That’s what we always try to focus on in our house – What our bodies can DO. How what foods we eat give us different outcomes, some helpful and some not.

But they’re always listening.

Why oh why can’t they stay this little and cute forever?

I remember when she was six, she came home from school and said that two of her good friends were on a diet, because their mums were and can she go on a diet, too please? It broke my heart. Until about 6 years old, she was always quite underweight, it was a fight to even get weight on her, and here she is wanting to go on a diet?? To be fair, she didn’t really know what a diet was, but the fact 6 year old girls are talking about losing weight? It just makes me so sad.

Like I said, it’s not only girls.

Our boy is the opposite, at almost 12 and 28kg on a heavy day and an absolute heart of gold, he’s a lot smaller than his buddies, but he has an awesome group of friends, who all treat him with respect. While it doesn’t bother him generally, if people make fun of him, or go out of their way to point it out, he gets upset. A “lovely” check out lady once said she didn’t believe he was the older kid, because he was so much smaller than his sister, and kept on at him about it. There’s no need for that shit. Just shut up and move on.

They hear everything we say. Not only about them, but about ourselves.

How often have you made a comment within earshot about how you can’t eat that, you’ve gained too much weight? Or that you have to go for a run, so you can “earn” that piece of cake you had today. Or loving and loathing the scales, depending on the number that day. Going on a diet and forcing the restrictions on the kids? It can be tough, I often have to catch myself.

But they hear it all. And they reflect it on themselves. What you say about yourself, they will say about themselves. That shit sticks with them.

So just don’t do it.

My beautiful babes.

They have plenty of time to learn that, and no doubt they will hear it at school. It’s up to us to educate them on healthy body image. Treating our bodies with respect. Eating to fuel our bodies. Doing activities because we love them, not because it will burn calories.

They’re always listening. Let’s not fuck them up.

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