Well hello again! Today, UKC is diving into something that hits close to home for parents of boys, young men, and athletes – both young men and young women. In a previous blog, we talked about body positivity looking at all kidz, but after reviewing we decided it would be a good idea to tackle this one because we feel this area of the subject just doesn’t get enough attention.
Understanding our bodies and feeling good about them? It’s a game-changer, trust me.
Boys and young men have their own societal pressures that are different to that of girls. Women, of course, have unrealistic standards to live up to, and we’re so glad we addressed that. Today, let’s look at the pressures on young men as they grow up. We’ll also discuss the difficulties that come with being an athlete, whether a young man or a young woman.
#1: Holistic Body Positivity
Let’s get one thing straight: a healthy body isn’t just about a certain look. Whether you’re a young man or a young woman, body positivity is a critical component to growing up with a healthy mind and body. It’s about feeling fantastic and doing what’s right for you while remaining healthy both physically – and mentally. Society throws these ‘ideals’ our way, but truth is, they aren’t often healthy or realistic. We’ve got to celebrate feeling amazing, regardless of how we’re shaped.
Young men and athletes grow up seeing images of super men and elite athletes, believing these images can be attained by themselves. And sometimes they can be, depending on our genetics. But sometimes, it’s just not realistic – and that’s okay. We have to make sure they know that’s okay. It’s important that we reinforce a healthy work ethic, but it’s also important that we reinforce that everyone is different – and that, too, it’s okay.
Not everyone is born with the gifts to make it to the NFL or the NBA, no matter how hard they work. And an unfortunate injury can dash those dreams just as quickly. Just like not everyone can look like the movie stars we see in the super hero movies.
The key here is, can we train ourselves to act like those heroes when they’re at their best as humans?
The answer is yes. It’s not easy. But yes.
#2: Mental Health and Self-Perception
When we’re down on ourselves, it’s a tough ride. It’s like a nosedive nobody needs. So, let’s take a step back and look at the things we can change. How we talk to ourselves, the way we treat ourselves, those matter. It’s about being a friend to ourselves first. When we start believing in our potential to feel better, that’s when the real transformation begins.
It will always be easier to destroy than create. It will always be easier to see the differences than the similarities that bring us together. It takes work. So when you look in the mirror, what do you say to yourself? When you look at your son or your athlete or the young man in your life, what do you tell them? How do you reinforce the good they’re doing for themselves and help them be more of the good that they actually control?
It’s important to help them understand what they control about their body. Which can be a lot. Body positivity means being healthy and feeling in control. With the right work ethic and discipline, they can achieve more. So how do you reinforce that work ethic and discipline in the age of rage bait and social media? The endorphins we pop with immediate, short term happiness are not the building blocks for a great life of consequence. How can we reinforce our young to do better?
Start with yourself.
#3: Openness and Support
We, as adults, are the role models here. How we talk about ourselves and others matters. Let’s steer clear of that negative body talk. Our kids absorb everything we say and do, so let’s lead by example. Body positivity for young men as for young women starts with us.
When our young men or our young women athletes come to us after a tough loss, what messaging will help them recover and improve? Sometimes it’s okay to feel bad about a loss. Turned around, it can be motivation to not feel like that again. But sometimes things are just out of our control, and we need to understand that. Sometimes we need to not take the world personally.
#4: Performance Pressure
Be kind always. Be gentle when needed. Push, but help when asked. Some things kids need to understand for themselves, but remember, they don’t have the life experience you do. It’s okay to give them a nudge in the right direction and to lead by example.
For our athletes and active ones, performance counts. But hey, exercise isn’t just about shedding pounds. It’s about unlocking our potential, feeling stronger, and yeah, giving our bodies the rest they need. Body positivity isn’t just about the short term successes. It’s a long game – a marathon, not a sprint. We’re easily swayed by the short term successes that come at us, but we have to understand our bodies well to be healthy for the long run. Scoring and winning isn’t everything. Trusting the process and taking the Ls with the Ws is part of a healthy long-term outlook.
Being a parent is difficult. Here are some resources to help you with your kidz with body positivity, whether they’re young men or young women:
NEDA – National Eating Disorders Association
If you know somebody needs help with their eating habits, NEDA is a great resource. They haven’t made their way to Savannah yet. Is there somebody out there interested in helping us change that?
The Good Men Project
For you parents of sons out there, check out The Good Men Project.
Positive Coaching Alliance
The PCA is a great resources for youth sports coaches everywhere, including online, that can help us right here in Savannah.
#6: Celebrating Body Positivity
Let’s shift our focus from those impossible ideals to the things we can control. Is your kid kind? Hardworking? That’s the real win, right there.
Can you help them with their diet? What can you do to make sure they get the fuel they need to succeed? You can help them maintain discipline by making sure they have access to healthy foods. You can lead by example by guiding them gently on portion size.
Can you help your kidz being more comfortable in their own body? In feeling the reward of success, and comforting them in failure? You can be there. You can lead the charge with body positivity by working on yourself and using kindness and action to inspire.
What can you do for the long game of helping them be good people – good to themselves and good to others? You can be a positive force, and help shape your children into becoming the best versions of themselves possible.
The answer is: you can do a lot. You have a huge impact on your kidz in all things. Body positivity is not an exception. And that’s a lot of responsibility, but we know you’re up to it and we’re here to help when you need it.
At the day’s end, nurturing a positive relationship with our bodies helps us and our kids find happiness. So let’s celebrate the good stuff and keep spreading that positivity!