Our culture has always put a premium on beauty and desirability whether it be female or male. We grew up with its lure, but today’s media takes it to a whole different level. Between the social media icons combined with television and movies, it can become almost impossible for our young ones not to compare themselves to “perfection.” So, let’s consider how to help your teen develop a healthy body image as it is becoming an essential part of parenting.
The Tragedy Of Negative Messages
You can’t protect your children from the outside world forever. Keeping them in a closet until they are 25 actually doesn’t work, in case you were wondering. All kidding aside, this is a serious topic and parents need to keep a watchful eye.
Parents should note the following negative body image issues in your teen:
- Fat shaming is a common and sad reality among teens and even pre-teens. Instant messages, Facebook, Twitter and all the ways we communicate can become brutal if your child is being fat shamed. Watch for signs of depression and reluctance to join in family or any social situation.
- Eating disorders are a clear sign that something is terribly wrong. If they head to the bathroom immediately after eating, or just stop eating altogether, it is time to have a quiet conversation and find out what’s going on. If they are truly just trying to drop a few pounds to get into a dress for a dance, or to get on a team at school, encourage them to seek advice. Get help from Kids First Pediatrics of Raeford and Fayetteville about ways to lose a little weight the healthy way.
- The number of suicides and those who try goes up every year. Before you immediately think this could never happen to you, consider that suicide rates rose 30% from 1999 to 2016. By 2017 suicide was the second leading cause of death among young people aged 10 to 25 according to the CDC.
The increased use of smartphones contributes to depression, anxiety, and sleep deprivation. This constant connection with “friends” or peers fuels the increase in mental health conditions. If your child talks about wanting to die, is hurting him or herself, or cuts himself off from all friends, seek help.
Be The Model Of A Healthy Body Image AND A Healthy Body
Do you complain about your weight or how you look in clothes or a bathing suit? Do you spend too much time on the couch? These unintentional behaviors affect kids of all ages. If you want your teens to be comfortable in their own skin, you need to be that way too.
Don’t think this only applies to girls, because guys go through puberty too. Make it your goal to increase your teen’s self-esteem through actions and words. Here are some ways:
- Ask your child to describe their favorite physical attribute be it their smile, hair, personality or eyes. Then you tell them what you think is their best feature or trait.
- Explain how puberty can cause some weight gain, but eating healthy and getting enough exercise will increase their metabolism.
- Make sure you repeat “there is no such thing as perfection.” Make it lighthearted and soon they will be saying it too.
- Control what you can! You can’t do anything about peers, but you can encourage all family members, especially siblings, to use positive language and compliment each other whenever possible.
- Get everyone to catch themselves, including you, from saying negative things about themselves. Turn it around into a positive and say it out loud.
- Support constructive friendships with peers who are kind and accept your child just the way they are.
Helping a teen to develop a healthy body image is a process. The more people in your teen’s circle who participate will only help to develop the self esteem needed to become a confident adult.
Contact Kids First Pediatrics of Raeford and Fayetteville for help with BMI issues or how to achieve a healthy weight and body image.