Project confidence when explaining everything. I you are uncomfortable, tell them that!
Be open and honest. Placing a taboo on this subject matter will shut down communication lines and could instill the assumption that what their body is going through is something embarrassing and gross.
Luckily, my kids are not here yet. A great resource for them to have is "The Girl's Body Book - Everything you need to know for growing up you" this is a great book with very helpful information.
There is also an equally valuable Boys Body Book. They both cover hygiene, parents, friends, dating, bffs, body image, body changes, school/grades, nutrition, fitness, siblings, sex, relationships, peer pressure, and more. Everything is laid out in a frank manner.
Explain the difference between fantasy and reality. Some people go so far as to say that you shouldn't allow princess stories or video games because they establish a false sense of reality. This seems a bit far fetched to me. As long as they understand that these things are pretend (fantasy), then why should their play be restricted? The imagination is a powerful tool that is shaped during childhood.
Recent tests have shown that having a well developed imagination is directly linked to success later in life. By making fantasy off-limits you are stripping away their intellect.
Point out positive role models. Instead of waiting for your child to notice someone of importance (usually due to media publicity), point them out yourself. Some good examples: a community volunteer who goes above and beyond, a devoted parent or teacher, a service member... You get the idea.
Don't dismiss sexism - Ive always been against imposing gender stereotypes. Boys can wear pink (its just color, like any other color), girls can play with trucks (they're fun!), etc. When you see sexism, address it with your child. If someone implies that dads work and moms stay home (boys don't do ballet, or whatever), don't reinforce the ideology by ignoring it.
Focus on being healthy, NOT slim!!! Some fantastic resources that I encourage everyone to check out:
The mission of Operation Beautiful is to post anonymous notes in public places for other people to find. The point is that WE ARE ALL BEAUTIFUL. You are enough... just the way you are!
Their goal: to end negative self-talk
How it started: A woman decided to leave a positive message for others on the mirrors in public restrooms.
Join the mission! All you need is piece of paper and a pen. Snap a pic of your note and email it Operation Beautiful with a bit about your experience. Here's a couple of pics sent in to Operation Beautiful:
Fit vs Fiction Marci Warhaft-Nadler's “Fit vs. Fiction” program, Marci visits schools and discusses all the misinformation and negative, inaccurate messages that we are bombarded with on a daily basis.
She also has a Fit vs Fiction blog
The current childhood obesity epidemic has led to a closer examination of our country's health/fitness habits. Many people have become so consumed with the obesity part of childhood obesity that they fail to see the other side of this epidemic: Eating Disorders. Eating Disorders that are responsible for both weight gain and weight loss. Marci lays out a great list of statistics, including many that I have been telling people about for quite some time. Sadly, many just don't seem to get it. Maybe her list will hit harder (here's hoping)
Her blog is wonderful! Every time I am sent an email notification of a new post I am always eager to read it.
Several studies have revealed some very SCARY facts:
Girls as young as 6 and 7 are already worried about getting fat. 25% of them have already dieted.
81% of 10-year-old have already been on a diet.
Average-weight girls and overweight girls are just as likely to be on diets.
By the age of 13, 50% to 70% of girls believe they are overweight.
Young girls look to peers and parents as role models. They often first hear about diets at home.
Some girls are afraid of playing sports, for fear of “bulking up”
Most young women feel significantly worse about themselves after reading a fashion magazine.
NEDA (National Eating Disorder Association)
NEDA's Mission NEDA supports individuals and families affected by eating disorders, and serves as a catalyst for prevention, cures and access to quality care. NEDA envisions a world without eating disorders. On their website you will find many helpful links and a wealth of information. There are also events, fundraisers, volunteer and intern opportunities, outreach programs, testimonials, research findings,recovery resources, family and friends sections, and so much more.
***NEDAwareness Week*** - the largest education and outreach effort on eating disorders in the United States, taking place February 24-March 2, 2013. The theme is "Everybody Knows Somebody" Find out more info here. If that is even just a little bit helpful, then I am so happy. If not, I'm sorry for rambling on - I do that a lot.