helping families thrive

Helping Families Thrive: Psychologist Says Be Mindful of Compliments to Kids

It's how we "phrase our praise" that can play a big part in promoting body positivity, according to Dr. Jenna Elgin of Helping Families Thrive

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A lot of times when we talk about teaching positive body image to our children, we think of young adults and teens, but it also applies to younger children. And sometimes the nice things we say to little ones are not always helpful.

"As the parents, we're kind of their first exposure to laying the framework for body image,” Dr. Jenna Elgin said.

But it's how we "phrase our praise" that can play a big part in promoting that body positivity.

The co-founder of Helping Families Thrive says we need to be mindful of compliments that are focused on the physical. Elgin suggests we avoid phrases like, "you're so beautiful," and "I love your shoes."

“What we're finding from some recent research is that when we provide a lot of compliments and commentary about appearance, even in positive ways, like telling little girls how pretty they are, this can actually create a bit of a fixation on what they look like," she said.

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Instead, Elgin suggests shifting the focus toward what our bodies can do.

“Rather than, 'gosh you look so pretty twirling,' you know, talking about how, 'you look so happy when you're out there dancing,' or, 'you seemed really proud when you got that dance right.'"

In turn, we are teaching our kids to find fulfillment from the inside.

"Helping our kids really build that internal awareness around how they're feeling and tying it really to their experiences rather than what they look like, their appearance,” she said.

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