Last week I took my 6 year old to the doctor. He had been climbing a fence 3 days earlier and fell back on his wrist/arm. It was hurting him that night, but he could still move it really well and didn’t complain a whole lot about it the next few days, aside from it being kind of sore. It started to swell a bit so I decided to take him in. It ended up being broken and needing casting…2 days before flag football started! Boo.
But the fact that I made my child wait 3 days with a broken arm before I took him to the doctor is not what I’m blogging about today :) Instead, when the nurse brought us back, she had us stop so she could weigh him, see how tall he was and take his blood pressure. When he sat down to have his blood pressure taken, the nurse said she was going to put a cuff on his arm and it would feel like “his arm was getting a little hug”.
When was the last time you went to the doctor and heard that? Or anything remotely like it? Probably a few decades ago. But isn’t it interesting how much emphasis we put on positivity with kids, but rarely talk to ourself (and maybe even other adults) that way? I’m not suggesting that we sugar-coat or skirt around issues or avoid hard discussions. But I am suggesting that if you wouldn’t want your kids to do it, you shouldn’t do it yourself.
I actually think about that a lot. Particularly professionally. It’s in large part why I can’t support anything but weight-neutral, food and body positive, nutrition discussions. I can’t get behind counting calories or points, having rigid meal plans, cheat days, clean eating, good vs bad foods, 21 Day fixes, juice cleanses, supplements, meal replacement shakes, frequent weighing, etc…because I would NEVER recommend that to any of my own children. If it’s not good for kids, why do we think it’s OK for adults? At what age do we feel it appropriate to make our food and bodies something we manipulate, obsess over or abuse as opposed to something we express gratitude and appreciation for and take care of? Unfortunately, disordered eating and body image issues are getting younger and younger due to our kids watching us fight food and our bodies. So I cannot in good conscious recommend any sort of diet or food manipulation.
I’m not the one to give parenting advice, but I do know that when I speak positively to my kids, they are much more open, curious and receptive. I find the same with the clients I work with. Being critical is never motivating, even when - no, ESPECIALLY when - it’s you being critical of you.
Ben was also nervous to go to school the next day because he didn’t want to be made fun of for having a purple cast. It's been a long time coming, and all these recent experiences finally inspired this list of 10 things I want my kids to know:
- You are more than a body. So is everyone else. Look for the REAL good in yourself and others. Give compliments that have nothing to do with how people look.
- Never feel like your body needs explanation. It’s not broken and it doesn’t need to be fixed. It only needs your attention, care and gratitude.
- Treat all people the same. Don't favor those you think can do something for you or snub those who others would look over. Make being nice the cool thing to do.
- What other people think of you is none of your business and the way they treat you says more about them than you.
- Be YOU. Never apologize for being too much of anything. You’re unique and special and the only one of you the world has. Don’t make us miss out on your talents and gifts because you’re afraid of what others might say.
- Things always work out. Hang on to hope above all else. Worrying never accomplishes anything. If there’s something you can do to make things better, do it. If there’s nothing you can do, let it go.
- Let yourself feel anything you need to feel, but know that not all thoughts are truth.
- Be cheerleaders. Build people up WAY more often than you criticize or find fault.
- Never listen to the voice in your head that says you aren’t enough. EVER.
- Always be willing to learn. Ask questions, don’t expect yourself to have it all figured out and don’t be afraid to fail.
- Oh, and, always hug your mother. <3
Emily Fonnesbeck RD, CD