Happy Valentine’s Day! On this very special day of the year, people express their love for that special someone, throw Valentine’s parties, and dine with wine and roses.
In the world of nutrition, you might see recipes for healthier Valentine’s treats, how to throw a healthy classroom party, and how to stay healthy, trim and fit while managing the influx (and ingestion) of chocolate.
Not me. Not here. Not this year.
I do want to talk about love, however.
5 Paths to Help Kids Love Themselves
Love is a strong emotion, and in its pure form, is loyal, unquestioning and undying. Self-love is the same.
All our kids need is a little self-love, right? Here are 5 pathways to self-love for every child:
A Love for His or Her Own Body
Little kids love their bodies—they don’t lament about the size of their hips, legs, or derriere. They run freely, jump with zest and walk proudly around the pool in their swimwear.
But somewhere along the line, many kids lose this love of their body and replace it with criticism, embarrassment and sometimes loathing. I think it tends to happen during the school years, when awareness of differences and the drive to be the same are at their peak.
Finding ways to encourage your child’s body love is crucial and tricky—one way is to make sure you love your own body. Being ready for, and quelling some of the common childhood insecurities is important, as well as being thoughtful with your responses.
A Love of Food
So many adults struggle in their relationship with food—they love it and they hate it. They allow themselves to indulge in the foods they love, but then deny those foods, sometimes indefinitely.
I think kids should grow up loving food. After all, you can’t live without it, so you may as well love it! That’s not to imply an unbalanced approach to food—on the contrary, striking a healthy food balance is the key to being able to love all food.
Honor your child’s preferences while exploring new foods, tastes, and food combinations. Enjoy the ‘winners’ and take the ‘losers’ in stride.
A Love of Eating
Eating is a process—a slow, savory process. It involves the taste of food, the table environment, camaraderie among diners, and more.
You want to teach your child to love the eating experience, and this starts with coming to the dinner table.
Do your best to create “a happy place” at mealtime. You don’t want to teach your child that coming to the dinner table is like coming to a war zone, where he has to be on the defensive, deflecting pressure, punishment and disappointment.
A Love of Cooking
You can’t create a love for cooking unless you get your child in the kitchen and give her liberty. Get her there often, so she’s comfortable.
Give her the freedom to create, make mistakes and experiment. You don’t want your child to be intimidated in the kitchen, fearful of making mistakes or afraid to take a chance on a new recipe.
Julia Child captured the essence and attitude to have with cooking when she said, “Learn how to cook — try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless and above all have fun.”
You don’t want to pass on your own cooking deficiencies or fears. Try and learn together!
A Love for Physical Activity
You really don’t have to create or cultivate this one, but you do have to preserve it. Kids naturally love to move and be active—some more than others—but all kids enjoy movement.
However, the older kids get, fewer opportunities exist. If you are active, and you lead family activities, your kids will be more likely to be active too–and this can seep into adulthood.
How are you creating this love? I’d love to hear your experiences and insight!
Written by: Jill Castle, MS, RDN
Published on: February 14, 2013
Updated on: May 8, 2019