In this series, the focus is to help foster and nurture an open and profound bond between father and daughter, one that transcends the awkwardness of puberty. (I wrote about it in more detail here.) And in that spirit, I’ve agreed that once a week I will answer – honestly – any question my husband puts to me. However, this week I’m doing something a little different. I’m adding an addendum to an earlier question, and talking about building body confidence in children.

In week four, Dan asked me about body dysmorphia and in my response I spoke about my fears for our daughter. I have concerns about my own preoccupations rubbing off on her, and I feel a great responsibility to ensure that doesn’t happen. I want Pixie to grow up with a healthy relationship with her body and to be confident. The onus is on us to promote that attitude.

But how?

Well, I’m sure to a degree promoting body confidence in our children is a case of leading by example. But also, I wanted to share a little something that happened this week, which made me wonder if perhaps this won’t be quite so tough as I first imagined…

Body confidence is so important in order to give our children the best foundation to avoid eating disorders. And to a large extent they will be influenced by us. So how can we promote body confidence in our little ones?

Little Pixie sustained her first ever graze this week (no, I do not wrap her in actual cotton wool, she’s just been lucky!). It was so minor I was completely unaware of it – until she discovered the resultant scab on her knee when I was getting her dressed.

She examined her injury with great interest. Like most littlies, our Pixie has very keen eyesight, and she displays some OCD tendencies when the tiniest, most minute fragments of dirt are concerned (possibly my fault). Having painstakingly sought out an errant speck and plucked it off the floor, she will come to me with her offering held daintily between two fingers with cries of ‘BIN! BIN!’ And we must take it to the bin.

So on close inspection of her knee, Pixie declared ‘DIRTY!’ Naturally, she wanted to remove the offending dirt from her skin, and equally naturally according to the laws of biology, that was not possible without reopening her wound… I had to think on my feet.

I tried telling her ‘it’s okay/leave it alone, Sweetheart’ etc – to no avail. It was dirty, ergo it had to be removed. Without giving it too much thought, I gently took her leg and I kissed her knee.

And in that simple action, I inadvertently but comprehensively altered her perception.

Pixie watched me convey love and tenderness towards the imperfection on her leg, and it was enough for her to revaluate her own distaste. She kissed her own knee and became fascinated rather than disgusted.

It was only with hindsight that I realised perhaps I’d already begun the complex process of encouraging our daughter to accept herself – flaws and all. And it was not with any profound lectures, but in an organic gesture bound up in my love for her. Best of all? She responded.

Of course I appreciate that as our children grow older they will not always follow our lead quite so immediately or dramatically; influencing them will become more and more challenging. But I do wonder if perhaps this hasn’t demonstrated an important lesson:

The best thing we can do is simply follow our instincts and love our children; sometimes that’s enough.

An award-nominated blogger and author, Kate is a huge advocate of personal growth, focusing on journaling to increase positivity and facilitate mindful motherhood. With a wealth of experience in breastfeeding and CMPA, Kate is also an expert baby sleep chaser. Her writing has appeared on Mothercare, Huff Post, and BritMums.


    • Kate Reply

      Thank you. I hope it really is this simple… I dare say it will become tougher though! Xx

  1. Katy - Hot Pink Wellingtons Reply

    Beautiful story, I love the simplicity of things for children, you handled this perfectly. I always worry that I won’t know the right thing to say at the right time when it comes to things like this. I hope that like you, the right thing just comes!

    • Kate Reply

      Thanks Katy, I think it was more by luck than design on this occasion! But none the less, I’m glad my daughter responded. ?

  2. Mess and Merlot Reply

    Aww this is sweet. After spending most of my life worrying about my imperfect body I really worry that my daughter has the same fate ahead of her, I tell her she’s perfect regularly but at 4 she’s already aware that she’s ‘squidgier’ than all her friends. Obviously in my eyes she’s so scrummy I could eat her up but I worry everyday that I should be doing something to prepare her for the harsh reality of the image conscious world we live in – I hate the thought of her having a negative body image later in life ;(

    • Kate Reply

      This is so sad, but I fear it’s prevalent, and – dare I say it – the norm. ? We can’t do more than show them that in our eyes they are acceptable and lovely, flaws and all.

  3. Coombe Mill - Fiona Reply

    Love the way you handled this, it is the media that gets in the way and peer pressure as they grow up #bloggerclubuk

  4. I’m always careful how I talk about myself in front of my children, I would hate for them to grow up with a negative image of themselves.

  5. Tracey Abrahams Reply

    I think you took the perfect approach to your daughters graze and I agree they pick up so much from parents when theu are young. The words diet and fat should be seen as every bit as bad as swear words around children. I see mothers all the time talking about their own body issues in front of their children and they dont realise the potential damage they are doing.
    Thanks for sharing with us, Tracey xx #abitofeverything

    • Kate Reply

      I couldn’t agree more. But it’s easy to slip up with profanities too… I think the key is trying to change our own attitude really, rather than hiding it. Xx

  6. Silly Mummy Reply

    So interesting – my daughter does exactly this with bruises and grazes (‘dirty’), and we kiss them better too, but I had never considered whether that also helps them to accept flaws. I also have a history of anorexia and body dysmorphia, which I want to avoid my daughters developing. #KCACOLS

    • Kate Reply

      I’m not a psychologist, but it just became so clear in front of me that that was what *seemed* to be going on. I hope I’m right and these simple things can help lay the foundations for healthy body image x

  7. A Moment with Franca Reply

    I think you have managed to indeed encourage your daughter to accept herself which is wonderful. I know it won’t be the same when they are older but little steps like this will certainly help. I do the same with my girls and I will keep doing it too as I think is a way to start building some consciousness prior to the difficult years that will come. Great post. I really enjoyed reading it. Thanks so much for sharing this at #KCACOLS. I would love to see you again on Sunday! 🙂 x

  8. Kate Reply

    Absolutely, which will naturally promote kindness and compassion too, which is no bad thing! X

  9. Kate Reply

    It’s such a shame that this conversation is even necessary. But the way our generation is, partly as a result of the way our mothers brought us up, just goes to show we need to talk about it. Hopefully that will improve things for the next generation… Xx

  10. Rashad Cocroft Reply

    Body image is how a person feels about and sees their body. People’s body image can be influenced by their own feelings and by the reactions of those around them.

    • Kate Reply

      Yes, hopefully this is something I expanded upon in the post!

  11. Kate Reply

    Thank you for coming back to read! Really pleased you like it ? x

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