If you are a parent with teenage kids, the likelihood is that body image is a significant concern for you. As your children grow into adults, a lot of changes take place, and the pressure to ‘look good’ is probably higher now than it has ever been. And let’s not beat around the bush – body image issues can turn out to be incredibly serious. Not only can they lead to nightmarish conditions like anorexia and bulimia, but they can also cause depression and severe self-esteem issues.
With this in mind, we’re going to take a look at some of the things you need to know about body image. What influences it, and how can you, as a parent, encourage a healthy attitude in your children? Let’s take a closer look at everything you need to know.
The Influencing Factors
You don’t have to look too far to realize we live in a highly image-conscious world. There has always been a variety of influences impacting a teenager’s self-esteem, but with social media becoming such a strong presence in our society, things are even worse than ever. A quick look on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter is all you need to know about what your teen is comparing themselves with. Throw in the traditional discomfort of a teen’s body changing shape through puberty, the vast array of Photoshopped celebrity images they are exposed to, and the cruelty and bullying of peers and classmates, and there is a lot for kids to contend with.
Sensible Self-esteem Strategies
There will be times when your teen is facing unavoidable problems – if they have acne, or need to wear braces, for example. It’s important to be mindful of their feelings, and try and solve their problems rather than just shrug your shoulders. In the case of crooked teeth, perhaps you could sit down with them and work out a solution that suits them. You might find that getting something like kids Fastbraces is a more appealing option for your teen. Or maybe you could ask your dentist for some suggestions of ‘invisible’ braces. Ultimately, though, focusing on the positives – e.g., you're going to have great teeth this time next year – is the best option for helping them embrace their challenge, rather than fear it.
A Healthier Attitude
You won’t be able to stop your child from seeing all these images, but there is still a lot you can do to help them deal with their own issues. Start by becoming a positive body role model. A lot of body image problems stem from parents, even if only subconsciously. Be active, make healthy eating choices, and be proud of things that aren’t anything to do with appearance. It’s also important to point these things out to your child – if they are naturally funny, for example, or put 100% of their effort into everything they do. If you don’t place a lot of importance on looks, there’s more chance your teens will do the same.
As you can see, there are plenty of ways you can prevent serious body image issues for your teens – but it will take some work. Praise them, create a positive environment, and help them understand perspective, and you will be on the road to success.
Talk to me in the comments, please:
What are some other tips you would add to help with the teens and body image issues?