Becoming aware and paying attention to one's body image is normal for our teen daughters. It's part of growing up and becoming a woman. So many changes are happening to their bodies the deciding to be comfortable in their own skin takes time and attention.
In order to make this time and attention a positive experience for our teens, parents need to pay specific attention as to how they talk to their teen about their physical appearance. Fostering a healthy environment that includes exercise and good nutrition is also important. By modeling all of these behaviors to their teens, parents can send a lifelong positive message about body image.
In order to project a positive outlook about body image, you'll need to understand exactly what body image is. It isn't the shape of your teen's body. It's how your teen views the shape of their body. So, your teen daughter could be thin and beautiful but because someone in school made fun of how long their neck is, they will focus on that fact and think that they do not measure up. This may seem ridiculous to parents, but do not ignore it. It could be just something they grow out of or it could become a problem. You'll need to pay attention.
Extreme weight concerns, bad acne or other physical traits that may lead your teen to think that they are less than desirable are issues that are hard to treat and hard to deal with when trying to give your teen a positive outlook of their body image. This is because their peers play a big role in how our teens look at themselves. Teens are not always kind, and sometimes downright harassing, when it comes to how their peers look. You can help your teen deal with this problem by encouraging positive friendships and taking a healthy approach to the problem they are having.
Other ways to help your teen develop a positive body image:
- When discussing puberty and body changes, be sure your teen understands that weight gain is a part of the process. Encourage healthy foods and exercise. Discourage fad diets, constant weighing of oneself and talking about being fat. You find your teen is obsessing about their body image in a negative way and you have tried to discourage them, do not hesitate to get them to talk to a professional.
- Encourage your teen's high school to enact policies that will discourage students from harassing other students. These should include sexual harassment policies, name-calling, teasing and all bullying behaviors due to the student's weight or body image issue.
- Talk to your teen about what they see in the media. As there is no way to restrict your teen's viewing of the world around them, it is important to understand what your teen is viewing and talk to them about it.
- Encourage hobbies, interests and your teen's talents. If you're teens high school does not offer a club or group that inspires your teen to use their talents or interests, find one in the community that does. Or you can encourage your teen to start a group of their friend who share the same talent or interest.
- Avoid any negative talk about food or weight. It doesn't matter if your teen is struggling with being overweight or not, the message they get when they hear negative talk about food affects their body image.
- Girls are affected by poor body image more than boys for boys can have problems too. The same is true for girls who were overweight as opposed to girls are thin. Never assume that your teen is not having issues with body image because they are of a certain type.
While many teens do get stuck in the pothole that is body image, for most teenagers it is more just a speed bump in the life stage of adolescence. Promote confidence and personal well-being in your teen's everyday life and their positive feelings about their bodies should fall into place naturally.