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Boy moms: Raising a body-positive child applies to us, too

Raising boys with positive body images is about so much more than self-confidence. 

Boy moms: Raising a body-positive child applies to us, too

I’ll be honest: When the ultrasound technician said our firstborn was a boy, I felt relief wash over me. After my own struggles with body insecurity, the task of raising a girl to feel positive about herself seemed downright daunting. Although experience and education showed me many things I could do differently with a daughter of my own, I wasn’t sure I was up to the task.


From my view, raising a boy seemed much easier—at least when it came to avoiding the trappings of negative self-talk and body insecurity.

Then I began to realize all the ways it’s equally important to raise boys with good body images:

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Boys aren’t immune from struggles with weight, it just often manifests in different ways such as “muscle dysmorphia.”

Boys who are accepting of their own bodies are kinder toward others. The way they learn to talk about themselves is how they’ll think about others—including future partners.

Boys who feel good about their bodies focus less on “masculinity” and more on the wonderful benefits of individuality.

Boys with higher levels of self-worth are shown to do better at school, have better relationships and experience lower rates of mental illness.

Just as with the rest of parenting, these things don’t just come into being. They are thoughtfully nurtured. Which meant I wasn’t off the hook. Gulp.

Laura Roias, LICSW, CEDS, from Walden Behavioral Care, confirms raising sons with positive body images it isn’t a simple task.

“Nowadays, boys are also subject to increasingly unrealistic and unhealthy portrays of ‘ideal’ male bodies in everything from Halloween costumes with sewn in six packs, to action figures with massive muscles,” says Roias. “It’s more important than ever before to instill and foster positive, realistic and healthy body image in boys.”

Roias suggests these ways to boost body positivity among boys:

1. Make your home a body-positive zone

All children are perceptive to the cues about bodies and acceptance they hear at home. Roias says that means catching yourself before talking about a diet or plans to lose a few pounds—as well as seemingly innocent comparisons to other people. While you’re at it, keep specific compliments about your husband’s newly bulked-up muscles or his about the weight you lost (mostly) in private. As nice as these things are to hear, it’s important our children know measurements like weight are not measurements of worth.

2. Talk about exercise as a means to feeling healthy

Studies show parents are hugely influential when it comes to setting a positive example for active lifestyles, even with young children. The key is just in treating a sweat session as a want-to-do rather than a must-do. As Roias says, “Talk about exercise as a means of feeling good and being healthy rather than a way to lose weight or burn calories.”

3. Reality check images from the media

Whereas Barbie dolls and supermodels are often cited to be questionable influences for young girls, research shows boys are also subject to negative influence from action figures and superheroes. Although it doesn’t seem like those things are changing any time soon, parents can help provide balance by having discussions about how most things we see in the media are “constructions,” as Media Smarts puts it.

4. Identify non-body role models

Roias explains it’s important to help boys identify sources of self-worth “that are unrelated to weight or shape.” Start by talking about authors or admirable public figures in the same way we do Hollywood celebrities.

5. Keep food talk neutral

With an estimated 10 million men in the United States suffering from eating disorders during their lifetimes, it definitely isn’t just a women’s issue. To counter that, Roias says talking about food as good, necessary nourishment rather than something that life should revolve around is essential. Although it’s one thing to take satisfaction in food, it’s another to become obsessed with how it can help you gain or lose weight.

Clearly, so much is this starts with mindfulness on our own parts—and perhaps some adjustments to the ways we think about our bodies. This isn’t always easy, but it does pay off for both our girls and boys.

14 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

$30

Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

$75

Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

$40

Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.

$120

Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

$30

Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$100

Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

$100

Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

$45

Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.

$179

Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.

$100

Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

$33

Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

$88

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