It can be tough being a teenager. You’re trying to figure out who you are, what you want in life, and where you fit in. And on top of all that, you’re dealing with all the changes your body is going through. With all the pressure to succeed and fit in, it’s tough for them to feel good about themselves sometimes, and when it comes to body image, things can get really tricky. There are lots of factors that can contribute to a negative body image in teens. Some common ones include:
-Pressure from society and the media to look a certain way
-Bullying or teasing from classmates or siblings
-Having a parent who is overly critical of their appearance
-Being overweight or underweight
Role of a Parent in Fostering a Positive Body Image in Teens
As a parent, it’s important to help your teen develop a positive body image. When teens have a negative body image, it can lead to a lot of problems, including eating disorders, depression, and low self-esteem. Teens make up a huge portion of our society that consumes social media. It is important to help our children understand that social media is a highlight reel of people’s lives, and it is not an accurate portrayal of what life is really like. Help them understand that everyone is uniquely beautiful in their own way. Monitor your child’s media consumption and talk to them about the images they are seeing. You can counteract negative messages by providing positive messages about body image and self-esteem.
Here are five ways you can help your teen develop a healthy body image: be mindful of what you say, model positive behavior, and talk about body image realistically and openly.
1. Be Mindful of What You Say
When the subject of weight comes up, be mindful of whether or not you’re saying anything negative about your own body or someone else’s – including your teen’s. If you hear yourself making a negative remark, stop right away! Negative remarks are some of the quickest ways to send the message that appearance matters more than who is inside. It can lead to troubled self-image later on. To make sure your comments are sending the right messages, ask yourself if you would say the same things you say about yourself to your child.
Negative remarks about body image can be made in comparison to others, especially among teens. It’s important that you’re aware of these types of remarks and aware of how your teen interprets them as well.
Comparisons to others can be very detrimental, especially if they are made with body weight as the subject. Comparing yourself to someone else is almost always a bad idea because there is always going to be someone who weighs more, less, or the same. To maintain healthy self-esteem, you want your teen to focus on their own body and not anyone else’s.
2. Model Positive Behavior
What we do is so much more important than what we say! If you want your teen to develop a healthy body image, make sure you’re practicing it yourself by eating well and exercising. Your actions speak volumes about how appearance matters, so make sure yours are sending the right messages. Help your teen develop healthy habits like eating nutritious foods and exercising regularly. By practicing healthy habits, you’ll be letting your teen know that looking good comes from maintaining a balanced lifestyle – not starving or over-exercising!
3. Teach Them to Love Themselves to Establish a Positive Body Image in Teens
Teach your teen that beauty comes from within by taking time to express his or her unique style. Respect your kid’s privacy about how they look and dress. Remember that even teenagers need some privacy. As long as your teen is dressed appropriately for the weather and environment, trust them to make their own decisions about their appearance. Encourage them to be themselves, no matter what society tells them is “beautiful”.
Help them find things they love to do, making sure they get plenty of rest and relaxation, and that their schedule doesn’t leave them with no energy for other activities.
4. Talk About Body Image Realistically and Openly
Too often, parents try to pretend that body image isn’t an issue at all, or they make comments that only make things worse. It’s important to talk about body image in a way that is open and honest. Your teen needs to know that it’s okay to have feelings about their appearance and that you’re there to support them no matter what.
Encourage them to focus on their strengths and accomplishments, rather than their appearance. Showing your teen how to focus on their strengths and recognizing the things they’re good at will help them appreciate themselves in a healthy way.
5. Do Not Pressurize
Don’t put pressure on your kid to lose weight. Your growing teen needs nutritious food to fuel their bodies and brains for growth. So, comments about dieting can have serious consequences for kids’ physical and emotional health. Instead, encourage your child to engage in a physical activity that they enjoy. You can even join in! Physical activity can foster a healthy body image and help kids to feel good about themselves. Talk to them about their reasons for wanting to lose weight. Is it to improve their health, or because they feel bad about how they look? If it’s the latter, then you’ll need to address the root of the problem.
If your teen expresses dissatisfaction with their appearance, offer support and understanding. It can be difficult to have a negative body image, and your teen needs your help and understanding. Let them know that you’re there for them and will do whatever you can to help them feel better about themselves.
If you think your teen might be an unhealthy weight, talk to their doctor for advice first. They can advise you of healthy changes you can make with your teen without calling it dieting or tearing down their self-esteem.
These five tips are a great starting point, but they’re just that – a start. Body image is a complex issue and it will take time and effort from both parents and teens to have a positive impact. The most important thing is to be mindful of your words and actions. Talk about body image realistically and openly. Finally, provide unconditional love and support. Let them know that they are loved no matter what their size or shape. Moreover, remind them that they have many wonderful qualities that go far beyond their appearance.
What are some ways you think we could work together as parents to encourage a healthy positive body image in our teens? Please leave your valuable inputs in the comments.