Just because kids are in the same family doesn’t mean they look alike. Although we share some genes with our siblings, we don’t share them all – and that can really show when it comes to body type. It’s tempting to create different rules for kids based on their body types, but that’s not always the best parenting strategy.
Below are a few tips for parenting kids whose bodies don’t resemble each other at all:
- Choose your words carefully. Word choice can be a minefield in parenting. What we say has such an impact on our kids, especially when those words are said over and over. It’s important to be mindful of how we describe bodies (our own, theirs and everyone else’s) with our kids. Avoiding words like fat, skinny, tall, short and flabby is a good idea as these words often have some judgment associated with them. Instead, when talking about bodies you might focus on actions, for example:
Your legs were pumping so hard on those pedals – you really made that bike go fast!
You’ve worked so hard on that dance, your body moves so beautifully to the music!
- Discuss body care with all members of your family. No matter what our body type, good health and nutrition is the same (with some exceptions due to illness or medical condition). As such, it’s a great idea to talk to all of your kids, together, about healthy food choices and exercise. In fact, this is a topic of conversation that should be had early and often; while riding bikes, eating dinner and on vacation – just about anytime.
- Be open to talking about it. Babies don’t come into the world comparing their bodies to others. In fact, it takes quite a few years before kids start looking at their peers and noticing how their body stacks up. In this way, your 5-year-old might not have noticed how different their body is from their 7-year-old sister’s. It’s not your job to bring it to their attention. It is your job, however, to be open and ready for the conversation and questions if and when they start.