S2E9 – Addressing Body Image Concerns in Young Children

Apr 11, 2024

In this episode, I address a question submitted by a therapist on behalf of a concerned parent. The parent has a 6-year-old girl who is grappling with body image issues. As this little girl expresses concerns about her tummy being “fat” and worries that other kids are judging her, her mother fears she may be using food to soothe her big emotions.

These behaviors are merely cues, signaling deeper underlying issues that need to be addressed. More often than not, a child’s fixation on food, sleep, or obedience stems from a profound need for control or a manifestation of high anxiety levels.

Through the lens of child-centered play therapy, we can unravel the root causes and provide lasting solutions. By reflecting her feelings, giving her choices, and fostering her self-esteem through encouragement, we empower this young girl to develop an emotional vocabulary, self-regulation, and a healthy sense of self-worth – the very tools she needs to overcome her body image struggles.

Remember, the behavior itself is not the problem; it’s a window into her internal world. As we guide her through this journey, she’ll naturally internalize self-acceptance, regardless of her physical appearance. The path to healing lies in addressing the core emotional needs, not just the surface symptoms. With patience, empathy, and a child-centered approach, she can develop resilience and confidence.

Ask Me Questions: Call ‪(813) 812-5525‬, or email: [email protected]
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Cochran, N., Nordling, W., & Cochran, J. (2010). Child-Centered Play Therapy (1st ed.). Wiley.
VanFleet, R., Sywulak, A. E., & Sniscak, C. C. (2010). Child-centered play therapy. Guilford Press.
Landreth, G. L. (2002). Play therapy: The art of the relationship (2nd ed.). Brunner-Routledge.
Bratton, S. C., Landreth, G. L., Kellam, T., & Blackard, S. R. (2006). Child parent relationship therapy (CPRT) treatment manual: A 10-session filial therapy model for training parents. Routledge/Taylor & Francis Group.
Benedict, Helen. Themes in Play Therapy. Used with permission to Heartland Play Therapy Institute.

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