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Children as young as three worry about their appearance

By Megan Rose

Almost a quarter of childcare professionals have experienced children as young as three labelling themselves as ‘fat’ or ‘ugly.’

A poll, conducted by the Professional Association For Childcare and Early Years (PACEY), found that 71% of respondents believe young children are becoming increasingly anxious over their appearance.

10% said they had heard a child say they felt ‘ugly’, while nearly a third of nursery and school staff said they had witnessed children describing themselves as ‘fat.’ Nearly half reported they had ‘seen signs’ that 6-10-year-olds had displayed anxiety over their appearance. More than half of the respondents said girls appear to be far more conscious about their appearance than boys.

The report highlighted the influence parents and adults can have on children from an early age.

Dr Jacqueline Harding, an author on child development, said: ‘Early experiences matter the most and we need to be very careful about how (even inadvertently) we signal to children that they should think negatively about their bodies and how they look.’

Nick Harrop, campaigns manager at the children's health charity YoungMinds, said: It’s crucial that parents reassure their children about how they look, set a positive example and build their self-esteem.

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Image: Public Domain