9 Principles to Help Your Child Develop a Positive Body Image

We have been discussing aspects of body image and body control in infancy and early childhood. Through his own volition and self-discovery, a child will learn about his body image. However, caregivers maintain relational and environmental influence. These seven principles create an important foundation for your child’s healthy growth as well as an awareness for you and your child’s caregivers.

9 Principles of Developing Body Control and Positive Body Image in Children

toddler girl with flower
Provide the infant or young child with plenty of experiences of touch and physical contact.

The principles below are found in one of our most popular texts about early childhood, Pathways to Competence, by Sarah Landy. This book is standard in early childhood research.

  1. Provide the infant or young child with plenty of experiences of touch and physical contact.
  2. Encourage the toddler and preschooler to get to know his body and body parts.
  3. In order to encourage fine motor control, provide interesting toys and fine motor activities that the infant and young child enjoys.
  4. Provide activities that allow for the integration of a number of senses.
  5. Join the child in fun motor and movement activities.
  6. Help the child develop appropriate eating, sleeping and toileting routines. Avoid creating battlegrounds around them.
  7. Respond to the child’s early sexual curiosity by providing answers to questions, acceptance of interesting and appropriate limits for sexual play.
  8. Express delight in the child’s body and her control of it. Adapt to the child’s physical self.
  9. Respond to body language and validate the reality of the experience being expressed.

As you can see, the effort to help our children develop a positive body image is comprehensive. Caregivers have a constant presence that influences establishing healthy touch and body image environments for the children in their care, a vital part of our children’s healthy growth and development.  

Gerry Vassar, President/CEO, Lakeside Educational Network

Source: Information taken from Pathways to Competence, Encouraging Healthy Social and Emotional Development in Young Children, Second Edition by Sarah Landy.

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