June 23, 2024

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How to talk about working out to your kids

2 min read

When it comes to modeling ideas around healthy fitness for her two-year-old son, running coach and former pro distance runner Kaitlin Gregg Goodman is careful about how she frames her own passion for the sport: that it’s something she does for pleasure.

“I want him to really think––and know––it’s something I do for fun, for health, something we do for ourselves. Not something I have to do,” she tells Fortune, but something she gets to do. 

She, like so many other adults, understands that relationships with exercise can be complex, and often negative. That’s why Gregg Goodman is starting early with positivity around the topic with her son, and why experts advise other parents to do the same.

“When it comes to body image and exercise, our social and family network can be either a protective factor or a risk factor,” says Deborah Glasofer, associate professor of clinical medical psychology in psychiatry at the Columbia Department of Psychiatry. 

This can start at a young age, she says.

“Children are sponges,” Glasofer tells Fortune. “If you hear your child use disparaging language about their appearance or express unhealthy ideas about exercise, that should ring an alarm in your mind to be mindful of your potential role in that.”

Below, experts weigh in on how your words and actions around fitness can impact impressionable kids in your life, at any age—and how to promote a positive relationship with exercise.

Focus on what your body can do

Our bodies do a lot for us every day, but that can get lost when we’re stressed about appearance and not feeling our greatest.

Licensed family therapist Mary Beth Somich says it’s important for parents to use language that encourages their children—and themselves—–to focus on what their body can do, versus how it looks.

“Parents can help their children develop a healthy appreciation for their bodies by discussing the strengths and abilities their child…

Jordyn Bradley

2024-06-03 20:00:00

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