Name: Ralphie Jacobs
What are your children’s ages: 14, 11, 7, and 3
Tell us a little about yourself: I am the author of the Instagram feed @simplyonpurpose where I talk about purposeful family living and how to use your power as a parent to change your children’s lives in a positive way.
When is a time in your life where you struggled with body positivity and self love? How old were you, why did you feel bad about yourself? I noticed when I was about 11 or 12 that I was less happy with how my body was turning out. All of my friends were getting curves and looking womanly I was as straight as a stick (still am actually!). I’ll never forget the horror I felt when I was called out at a family dinner because the tissue paper I had used to stuff my bra was hanging out of my shirt!
Do you think that children struggle with self love? Oh yes. As our society changes rapidly and the importance of image becomes more and more magnified that mindset of perfectionism is adopted in our children at an alarmingly early age. I believe that their struggle is ever harder than ours in many ways, because their minds are less protected by what really matters and what doesn’t. They haven’t build that resilience yet and come from such an innocent starting point.
What can be done to help children learn to love themselves as they are and to keep positive self talk running through their minds? The biggest impact a parent can have in teaching self love is to model it. I know that’s really hard for many of us, but our children are watching and learning from all that we do. We set the standard of behavior in our homes and if we love ourselves and talk about how capable we are, our children will greatly benefit from that.
The other thing a parent can do is to teach a child how to talk and think positively about themselves. Instead of saying things that over generalize like “this looks dumb on me”, we can teach them to say things that move their thoughts in a positive direction like “this is a really cute swimming suit but I think I’ll keep trying to find a good color on me.”
Then don’t forget to teach them to congratulate themselves when they do look nice. A simple “this is the perfect color on me!” makes a huge difference.
How do you teach your daughters to love and appreciate themselves and their bodies? I am so lucky because I have all daughters! Each one has come with a unique personality and a set of gifts and struggles. One of the best ways that I’ve found to teach my girls to love themselves is to constantly be on the look out for the great capabilities that they have, and then say something. “Your hair is getting so long and you're taking care of it really well.” “Look at you running so fast and you’re not even tired!” “You’re getting so good at finding your style.”
And of course, I am very careful to not say negative things about my body. Let your children know that you have high regard for yourself. We all have problem areas to address but that’s a skill too, to learn how to dress in a way that you are happy and comfortable with who you are. Teaching that skill to your kids in a gentle and loving way and then lay on the praise. It will really help them to walk, run, and swim with confidence.