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.

Cheryl Butler
5-minute read
Episode #325

Tip #3: Equate Beauty with Behavior (Not Looks)

Even at a young age, it’s important for our children to realize that beauty is not skin deep.  Start young and have regular conversations with your children focusing on the idea that real beauty comes from within. 

This can be as simple as teaching your kids to share a kind smile with others—just because—or showing them that sometimes the best way to feel better about yourself is to help someone less fortunate than you.   

Help your children equate attractiveness with behaviors rather than looks. Let's redefine beauty as a combination of unique character traits that they alone possess—rather than merely a certain weight, unblemished skin, or the style of their cothing.

Tip #4: Show Them the Real Deal

Many of us have people in our lives who have a special connection with our kids. They could be grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, or family friends.

Think about the people in your life who are strong role models and influences for your kids.  What qualities make them stand out?  Are they super successful in their careers? Do they volunteer their time to the less fortunate? Are they optimistic and fun to be around no matter what their personal circumstances are? 

See also: 5 Tips to Stay Inspired as a Parent


Talk about these positive people with your kids and point out what sets them apart. Make it clear that it's their upbeat attitude or solid work ethic that makes them wonderful and successful, not the type of hairstyle they have, or the size dress they wear, or the kind of car they drive. 

When we showcase the reasons we are proud of our role models, we plant seeds about the character traits that make a person beautiful—inside and out.

Tip #5: Help Your Kids Appreciate What Their Bodies Do Each Day

One of the best gifts my mother gave me was the attitude of gratitude.  Growing up, no matter what poor circumstances had befallen me, my mom took the time to teach me to be grateful for what was good in my life.  Don’t get me wrong—she wasn't a complete Pollyanna. She validated my feelings when I needed it, but she had a gift for helping me and my siblings appreciate the little things in life.

If your child is vocal about hating certain parts of his or her body, don't ridicule them or dismiss their feelings. Instead, talk about the wonderful things their body body does for them each day. For example, the next time your daughter complains about her nose, point out that her heart beats thousands of times each day to keep the blood flowing to all her body parts and that her brain helps her make good decisions. Next time your son laments his too-large ears, remind him that if it weren't for them, he would not be able to listen to his favorite band or hear his favorite teacher. 

Then quickly shift the focus to keeping their bodies healthy, through the kinds of food they eat and the types of activities they do. And don’t forget that a good night’s sleep can help the entire body function better so make it a point to educate them on the power of sleep.

See also: 5 Ways to Help Your Family Sleep Better


How have you helped your child have a more positive body image? Share your thoughts with us in the Comments section at quickanddirtytips.com/mighty-mommy, post your ideas on the Mighty Mommy Facebook page. or email me at mommy@quickanddirtytips.com.

Also visit my family-friendly boards at Pinterest.com/MightyMommyQDT.

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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 Project Parenthood

Cheryl L. Butler was the host of the Mighty Mommy podcast for nine years from 2012 to 2021. She 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. You can reach her by email.