The following are some tips for encouraging a healthy body image for your teens:
Be realistic but kind with your teen about their body: While it is important to never hurt your child’s self esteem, it is also important to be realistic with your child. If your child is over-weight, do not tell them that they are skinny. They know that this is not true, and you will lose credibility, and when you tell them something that is true, they won’t believe you. So, if your teen has a problem with body image, it is wise to address it realistically, but never saying anything that will cause a problem with their self-esteem. For example, if they struggle with weight, you should never comment on it, as it can confirm their worst fears. However, if they come to you about it, do not do the whole, “no, you’re not” stuff, instead help them to come up with an approach to losing weight and being at a healthy weight.
Help them avoid media image pitfalls: One of the biggest reasons that teens do not have healthy body images is that they are comparing themselves to celebrities and people who are professionally made up and digitally altered. Of course your teen’s body is not going to compare to some movie-star’s as their bodies are paid for with plastic surgery and highly paid personal trainers. Help your child understand that so that they do not compare themselves to people who really are not on the same level. If your child is constantly looking at magazines, watching television shows, and comparing themselves to the people they see on them, there is no way they will ever have a good body image. It is not possible to feel good about your body if you are comparing yourself to people whose lives are about looking good.
Be realistic but kind with your teen.
Set some boundaries: Part of encouraging your child to have a healthy body image means setting boundaries. While it is okay for your child to spend time getting ready in the morning, it is not okay for them to get cosmetic surgeries, or shop lift to get clothes they want etc. If you are going to help your child have a healthy body image there has to be boundaries or limits to what they can and can’t do. This means you can put a time limit on how much time they spend in the bathroom, or how much of their allowance they can spend tanning, getting their nails done, whitening their teeth, etc.
Be a good example: If you want your teen to have a healthy body image you have to have one. Your kids learn from your example. If your teen hears you complaining about your weight they are going to be more self conscious about theirs. If your teen sees you constantly working out, or worrying about your skin, etc. they will do the same. So, be an example of someone who has a healthy body image, and you will see results in your children.