Teach Kids About Body Diversity

As we know from population studies that have informed the development of our pediatric growth charts, normal growth and development looks different for each unique child. This variation grows wider as children age, which is demonstrated in the shape of the growth chart spreading out as children inch closer and closer to age 20. (Did you know that the pediatric growth chart spans to the age of 20? This means something else that’s important to note: growth and weight gain continue, albeit more slowly, beyond puberty!)⠀


I often get calls from parents feeling anxious about the changes they are observing in their child’s body. Understanding these natural changes can help lesson the anxiety as children grow into their unique bodies. Here are some key points and suggestions to help lesson that anxiety around growth, food intake, body shape and weight concerns: ⠀

1. Kids often gain weight before they grow vertically, which will show up as a bigger appetite and a child that’s shape has changed. Kids can be supported through these changes with assurance that their body knows what it’s doing and body changes are part of the plan. ⠀

2. Body diversity is normal! Sometimes it feels tempting to compare siblings or peers, but even the growth chart informs us that two healthy 7yo girls can differ in body weight by more than 30lbs and 12"! When those same girls are 15 yo, that gap on the growth chart may be more than 75lbs! These are normal, expected variations in body size.⠀

3. Banish the “O” words (overweight, obese) from your vocabulary. These words are stigmatizing as they imply that there is some obscure “correct” weight or size. ⠀

4. Speak nicely about bodies. If a child hears you bashing your or someone else's body, they may start to wonder what might be wrong with their own body. ⠀

I love to broach complex topics by reading a book about it with my kids. Some of my favorites are pictured to the right.

Please share this post with a parent or caregiver in the comments that could benefit from this information! I’d also love to hear your thoughts and/or questions in the comments section. ⠀

For a summary of tips to raise an intuitive eater, head over to socalnw.com/intuitive