Have you ever experienced that moment where a kid's honesty can punch you so hard in the gut, it knocks the wind out of you? Me too. Children are so uncensored and honest...which can be such a beautiful thing. At the same time, it can also be really hurtful.
A really common thing I've noticed that children point out is when someone is "fat" or "large" or something like that. They'll say things like "mommy, your tummy is really big!" Which can send anyone off crying and researching the next weight loss fad.
But it doesn't have to be that way.
The only reason that being called "fat" feels insulting to us is because of the meaning we've placed behind it. Most of the time, kids don't understand what "fat" means quite yet. Consider this a teaching opportunity for them!
Let's check out the difference in perspectives when it comes to the situation...we'll start on the adult's side. A kid (usually our own) points out an observation... something to the effect of "mommy, your tummy is so big!" They simply looked at your belly, made the observation, and pointed it out. That's all.
On your side, you hear what they've said, and all the meaning that's been tied to what a "big tummy" means comes flooding in. You think a big tummy is bad. Your kid just called you fat. Oh shit, being fat is bad! You're bad. You're unlovable. You need to lose weight to become lovable again. Etc, etc.
Now here's where the teaching opportunity comes in...your kid likely hasn't been taught that "fat" is a bad thing. You have the most influence in this moment to teach them that it's not! Fat is simply a descriptive term. The only reason we think it's bad as a society is because of the meaning we've placed behind it.
If you think you're fat right now, and think it's a bad thing...it's because you were likely taught by your parents and/or those closest to you at a young age that being fat is a bad thing. But it's not a bad thing...it's simply a descriptive term.
So now you have a beautiful opportunity to change the whole trajectory of this child's life when it comes to how they experience their own body, and the bodies of those around them. If you react negatively toward their comment, they'll internalize that and automatically associate "fat" with "wrong".
Instead, try this... embrace their comment. If you're unable to say something like "yes honey, I do have a big tummy, and it's beautiful!" (they would probably agree)...but if that's too difficult, just try to say something like "thank you". Then change the subject.
Here's the thing...if we judge and bash our bodies in front of our own children, they are going to feel that their own bodies are wrong. No matter how much we tell them otherwise. They pick up our own examples of behavior, so it's important that we're also speaking to ourselves kindly, lovingly and positively.
If you don't want your child to experience the negative feelings around body image that you may have, I recommend you really work on accepting your own body and model that behavior for your child. That will be their best teacher!
I'd love to hear your thoughts...
What is something a child has said to you that you may have misconstrued by placing your own meaning behind it? How can you view and then be able to approach the situation differently next time?
Let's discuss in the comments below!