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How to Help Your Teen Have a Healthy Body Image

The teen years are notorious for wreaking havoc on our children's body image. Mighty Mommy shares 5 tips on how to help your tween or teen have a healthier sense of self.

By
Cheryl Butler
5-minute read
Episode #325

Mighty Mommy, Cheryl Butler, with one of her teenage daughters.

Body image is something many people struggle with today. A great majority of us (especially women) report some kind of dissatisfaction with our bodies. This is especially true during the teen years when young bodies go through lots of changes.

See also: 7 Ways to Help Build Your Teen's Self-Esteem

 

Although many of us don’t feel we have the perfect bodies, how we portray body image to our kids can have a major impact on their own self-perception and self-esteem. 

That's why today, I've got 5 fresh tips on how to help your tween or teen have a healthier body image..

Tip #1: Be a Healthy Role Model

Our children are like sponges and soak up all that we say and do—both the positive and negative. So one of the first places to start when helping to mold a healthy body image is to pay attention to what you say and do in front of your kids. 

If you are always complaining about your weight or some other aspect of your physical body, your children may learn that these are important concerns. If you focus on the latest trends and fads in dieting, you are sending a message to your child that it’s important to have a slim body as soon as possible, rather than teaching her how to make healthy lifestyle choices.  

Parents are role models and should try to follow the healthy eating and physical activity patterns that you would like your children to follow. 

For more great tips on how to achieve a healthy, well-balanced lifestyle without crash diets or unrealistic expectations, check out the smart tips tips from my colleagues, Nutrition Diva and Get-Fit Guy.

Tip #2: Discuss Realistic Body Shapes

Between today’s pervasive pop culture, social media, and the aggressive marketing of junior departments of retail stores, it’s no wonder that our tweens and teens are overwhelmed with trying to fit into the idealized shapes revered by our culture. 

See also: 10 Healthy Habits That Strengthen Your Family

 

As adults we know the ideal is unrealistic, but for younger people who are still formulating their sense of self, those are powerful images. The next time you see a billboard with a size 0 supermmodel sporting a super-short skirt, take the opportunity to discuss what you see with your teen.

Ask questions such as “What do you think about this billboard?” While it’s absolutely key to promote the importance of being healthy and in shape, it’s equally important to convey to your teen that the majority of men and women are not model-sized or-shaped. Make it clear in your words and actions that the goal is to make smart food choices and live an active lifestyle, rather than have a tiny waistline or 6-pack abs.   

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All content here is for informational purposes only. This content does not replace the professional judgment of your own mental health provider. Please consult a licensed mental health professional for all individual questions and issues.

About the Author

Cheryl Butler

Cheryl L. Butler is the mother of eight children. Her experiences with infertility, adoption, seven pregnancies, and raising children with developmental delays have helped her become a resource on the joys and challenges of parenting. Call the Mighty Mommy listener line at 401-284-7575 to ask a parenting question. Your call could be featured on the show!