Hearing your loved ones talking about their bodies in negative ways is tough, but listening to little kids commenting about disliking their appearance is even more heart-breaking. It is a well-known fact that children form opinions of their bodies at a very young age. In fact, kids as young as three years old can have body image issues, explains Mehezabin Dordi, clinical psychologist at Sir H.N. Reliance Foundation Hospital, Mumbai. Science has shown us time and again that developmentally, kids will pick up on the little things they see and hear their parents doing/saying. When we focus on our appearance or point out the things we dont like, were opening a door for the impressionable ones around us to do the same. For some expert-approved tips on how to avoid doing that, keep reading5 strategies parents can adopt to ensure they dont pass on body image issues to their childrenBe mindful with your wordsThe words that parents use matter a lot, Dordi explains. Studies show that kids in the age group of five to eight who think their moms are unhappy with their bodies are more likely to be dissatisfied with their own bodies. Therefore, it is important to show confidence in your body as well as about yourself.Try not to focus too much on appearanceyours and othersWhilst talking about people in front of kids, dont fixate on their appearance and their bodies, Dordi insists. Focus on more important things about a person, such as how kind or caring they are or whether they have good manners or work hard. Place value on their personal qualities, skills, talents and interests.Encourage healthy habitsSpend family time doing active things like playing outside, riding bikes, and going to the park, Dordi says.Scan their toysCertain toys can sometimes indirectly send wrong messages, Dordi explains. Take a long look at the toys in your kids chest. Do they have unrealistic bulging muscles or proportions that are not humanly possible? Try to edit these toys out or at the very least balance them out with more realistic representations of the human body. Better yet, stock up on brain-building board games, puzzles, and great books for kids.3 things parents unknowingly do that make children form unhealthy body imagesWatch indirect comments and non-verbal cuesKids repeat things they see in movies, books and more often than not, things around them. Avoid making offhand comments, statements, or observations about the childs bodily frames, sizes, or even eating habits, explains Dordi. Help them understand that people come in all shapes and sizes, despite what they see in the media. This may seem like an extreme example but parents and families sometimes talk in harmful ways to their kids about food and weight. For instance, an aunt might say, Youve gotten a little fat, havent you? Heres a diet coke. Or No cake for the fatty! Even seemingly friendly nicknames can be hurtful if they focus on some aspect of their appearance, she adds.ShamingWhether in public or private, children who are continually shamed can develop issues with perfection and a fear of failure. This can lead to serious mental health concerns such as depression or anxiety, explains Dordi. You might do it unintentionally if your childs weight or appetite makes you anxious, or if watching his body grow brings up painful memories from your own childhood. Parents often want to protect their kids from going through what they went through, she adds.Focusing too much on conventional beauty standardsPressurising your children to conform to conventional beauty standards can be detrimental for them. Instead, try to talk to them about all the different aspects that make up a person, such as personality, skills and interests, and outlook on life. Engage in regular physical activity and keep the focus on health, fun and enjoyment, suggests Dordi.