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A healthy mind for a healthy body

Barbie gets curves, SA gets a sugar tax and full fat milk sales soar as Noakes becomes a household name. Our health and bodies are constantly in the news and with so many mixed messages, deciding how to deal with your child’s growing curiosity around weight, appearance and diet can create more questions than answers.

Riverside College, a pre-primary, primary and high school in Cape Town, decided to bring these concerns to the fore during School Health Week, which runs across the country from 4-8 March. “We are used to hearing that a healthy body is a healthy mind, but one can also view it the other way around; mental wellbeing is just as vital to your child’s health,” says primary school principal Lynn Arbuckle.

Parents need to shift their messaging around health and weight, says Arbuckle. Descriptors such as “too fat to be a ballet dancer” or “too skinny for rugby” can have a negative impact on a child’s self image. “There is a growing shift towards body positivity which, instead of shaming a child, surrounds them with positive messages about their bodies.”

Some tips for raising a body positive child:

  • As a parent, don’t put yourself or your body down. Imagine your child speaking and feeling positively about their body, and model how you speak about yourself for them.
  • Become aware of how you react to your child’s comments about their body. Avoid negating their concerns or implying that one physical trait is better than another.
  • Avoid using weight related terms as insults or compliments – focus instead on other positive traits or achievements.
  • Speak about exercise and outdoor activity as joyful and fun – not something related to how much one needs to work off after a lunch.

“Our approach to good health at Riverside College is holistic. It includes exercise, minimising TV viewing, playing outside and fostering healthy relationships with family and friends – these are as important as your food choices,” says Arbuckle. “By teaching healthy habits from a young age, you’ll improve your child’s health in the long run.”


Distributed by Be-cause Integrated Communications:
Emma Proctor
021 447 1082 / 072 930 4412

On behalf of Riverside College:
Director: Elana Edwards
Primary School Principal: Lynn Arbuckle

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