Preventing your Teen from Developing Body-Image Issues
Children as young as 6 years old are concerned about their body image, according to studies done by the National Eating Disorder Association. These concerns increase once children go through the teenage years. Negative body image, defined as feeling unhappy with the way you look can lead to depression, eating disorders and feelings of isolation in your teen.
As a parent, you can have a huge influence on how your teen processes and feels about his or her body image. Your teen is watching your habits and behavior, and if you are constantly speaking negatively about your own body, your teen notices and can apply those negative feelings to their body.
One of the best things to do as a parent to promote positive body image in your teen is to be positive. Don’t make critical remarks about your own body or your teenager’s body. Instead, point out to your teen what makes their body beautiful or special, such as their eyes or their smile.
And you also can point out the many other features, besides their physical appearance, that make your teen special. Compliment your teen’s athletic talent or high grades in school. Praise their kindness or leadership traits. Your teen will learn that there are other important qualities to be proud of besides just their physical appearance.
It is important to explain to your teen that the images they see of celebrities in the media are not fair indications of what people actually look like. Teens will look at images of celebrities in the media to compare their own bodies to without realizing that those celebrities often have personal trainers, makeup artists and plastic surgeons at their disposal, and their images are usually heavily photoshopped and airbrushed in magazines and on social media.
Lastly, you can use your influence to establish healthy life habits in your teen. Instead of fussing over your teen’s weight, promote a healthy lifestyle that includes nutritious and regular meals as well as exercise. Teens will feel good about themselves if they are taking care of their bodies.
The teenage years can be a difficult time for your child if he or she feels negatively about their body. But, as a parent, you can prevent this by taking an active role in promoting positive body image in your teen. Doing so will help your child in the long run toward feeling good and confident about themselves and living a happy life.