Young children are often compared to sponges; they soak up all the information around them, which shapes who they become as they grow into adolescents and young adults.
Parents have the crucial duty to make sure that they set their children up for success with their words and actions. Toddlers and young children absorb everything they hear and imitate what they see around them, so moms and dads can help their kids later by teaching them important life lessons now.
Amanda Bouldin understands the importance of teaching kids how to navigate the world at an early age. The mom of three uses her TikTok account with 1.3 million followers and her parenting podcast, After Hours with Amanda, to help fellow moms and dads make informed parenting decisions.
Recently, Bouldin’s advice about how to broach the topic of weight and food with kids went viral on TikTok. It struck a chord with a lot of parents who don’t know how to approach the sensitive subject with their young kids who don’t yet understand societal pressure and the concept of disordered eating.
“I’m going to tell you how I talk to my 7-, 4-, and 3-year-old about weight: I don’t,” Bouldin explained. “It’s not a conversation we’ve had, it’s not a conversation we will ever have.”
Bouldin dealt with an eating disorder in college and knows how harmful diet culture can be, so she makes it a point at her house to encourage her kids to see all foods as fuel.
“In our house we have good fuel and fun fuel,” she explained. “Good fuel helps to process the fun fuel. We focus on keeping our body healthy so we can run, jump and play and be the fastest person on the playground. There are no foods that are off limits. Everything is good in moderation.”
Though her kids are still young, Bouldin also lets them decide what they want to eat and when. What’s important to her is teaching her daughters how different foods serve different purposes so they can make informed decisions on their own.
“The thing is is that because of the way that they see the food in giving them energy […] they will make those choices,” she explained to In The Know. “And if there is one day where it is a little bit imbalanced in my eyes, they don’t know that difference and I’m not going to say, ‘Oh wow, you had a lot of junk food today.’ I’m going to say, ‘Whew, I am tired today, I think I had a lot of fun fuel today, I am going to get some water to make sure that I’m getting that all through my system so I feel good in the morning.’ And they’ll be like, ‘Oh, can I get some water too?'”
Bouldin also makes a point not to focus on her daughters’ weights. When she takes them to the pediatrician’s office, she has them turn around as they’re being weighed — and if they ask about the number on the scale, she instructs the nurse to tell them that they are “just right.”
Of course, kids are naturally curious, so when Bouldin’s daughters ask her about the numbers on the scale, she frames them so that they understand that they are growing just like they’re supposed to.
“We go in and [my daughter] asks me the number and I’ll tell her and she’ll be like ‘What does that mean?’ and I’ll be like, ‘It means you’re growing and you’re healthy and we wanna make sure that we keep loving our body and doing the things for it that are gonna let us ride the rides at Disneyland, ’cause that’s what counts,'” she explained.
Through all of her conscious decisions around weight and food, Bouldin hopes to give her daughters a healthy mindset and lay the groundwork for a healthy relationship with food and body image.
“When something does come up in their later teen years because they’re gonna go through hormones, they’re gonna go through self-questioning like everybody does ’cause they’re developing into a human being, I’m going to continue to remind them like I do now that the level of self-worth they have and the level of value they have can never be tied to a number because that’s not their impact,” she said. “Because people all around the world of different shapes and sizes impact the world in big and small ways every day. And at the end of the day, the impact that we have is to be kind, love others and love ourselves.”
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If you enjoyed this story, read this advice on what to do if your partner’s parenting style conflicts with yours.
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