Encouraging a healthy body image for teens is not always easy, but it is possible. Try the following:
Teach by example: The best way to get your child’s body image to a healthy level is to be a positive example of someone who has a healthy image of their own body. When a teen girl sees her mother dieting all the time, she is far more likely to struggle with her own feelings about weight and dieting. Teens should not feel the need to diet. However, if they see their mom doing it all of the time, they are more likely to do so. Never let your child hear you say anything negative about yourself, or it is like giving them permission to think negatively about their own body. If you want them to act a certain way, you can’t act the opposite and expect them to respect you when you tell them to stop putting their body down, and to like themselves the way they are.
Help her find herself: Often problems with body image come because teenager’s bodies are changing, and they no longer feel comfortable in their own skin. If you want to help them feel good about their body, you have to help them find themselves, and what they like about themselves. Ask them to tell you something they like about themselves. Help them improve the areas that they do not. For example, if your daughter struggles with her body image because she thinks her hair is ugly, then take her in and help her get a cut that works for her face shape and that fits her personality, whether it be conservative or funky and fun. It is important to help them have self confidence, because without it, body image is going to be in big trouble. So remind them frequently about the good things, their body, their personality, their mind, etc. help them see that they are a pretty outstanding package, even if it does have a few flaws.
Always be positive about their body: Even if it is clear that your child is overweight, never say that to them. You, as their parent, have to be realistic, and help them eat better, exercise more, etc. but you also have to help them to be positive about their body. Focus on the attributes that they have that are good. These might be their eyes, their toes, their hair, their teeth, whatever it is, help them be positive about their body, and help them learn to pick out the good things that they have, instead of always thinking about the bad. It is easy to notice the things you are poor at, or the flaws in your body, but help them change their focus to the things that are admirable.
Help them have a realistic view of their body: Teens often feel fat, even if they are underweight. Teens feel like their face is ugly, even if they are beautiful, etc. Often they are comparing themselves to super models, celebrities, and people whose whole life revolves around their image, thus it is hard to compete with them. Help your kids see themselves through a realistic lens. If necessary, eliminate or limit their exposure to media so that they can get a grasp on the realities of what normal people look like, and what people who do not work out with a personal trainer every day look like.