It may seem impossible, but it can be done.
It seems teenagers – both boys and girls – across the world have issues accepting their bodies. And it’s no wonder. Their bodies are changing at rapid rates, and they often don’t understand what’s going on inside their own skins. On top of that, the media says the perfect body is sleek and slender, has curves at the right places and nowhere else. And as today’s teens consume more media than any generation in the past, they’re getting this message told to them over and over again.
So how can you help your teens break through the self-conscious feelings that come from poor body image and help them take pride in their bodies? With these tips.
Tip 1: Know Who’s in Control
A teen often feels inadequate because his or her body doesn’t measure up to someone else’s standards. To help your teen forget about these standards or at least put them in perspective, encourage your teen to realize that he or she is the only person who can determine what his or her body should look like.
Once your teen gets this figured out, it should be easier to put other people’s opinions aside and accept his or her body. With this mindset, your teen should be prepared to make some goals that are more personalized instead of the bone-thin recommendations that come courtesy of the magazine rack.
Tip 2: Stay in Control
As freeing as it may be for your teen to know he or she determines the standards to which his or her body will be held, these standards can still be rather difficult to meet. In order for your teen to not beat him or herself down over body issues, you’ll need to train your child to stay focused on the positive. Teach your teen to focus on the positive any time he or she begins to think negative thoughts about his or her body. The positive thoughts don’t have to be centered on your teen’s body. Quite the contrary. Have your child think of puppies, lollipops, basketball, or whatever else causes your teen to be happy.
Tip 3: Don’t Hold It In
Any time someone feels inadequate, the natural response isn’t to go and tell everyone. But doing this may make the difference in your teen’s life. Do all you can to maintain open lines of communication with your teenager. This way, if he or she is dealing with body image issues, you’ll be the first to know. Armed with this knowledge, you can talk with your teen and encourage him or her to love his or her body as it is. If your teen is consistently concerned about his or her body, set up a plan to make changes. And then go through the changes together.
Most important, if your teen’s body images ever seem to concern you, you’ll be in a good position to encourage your child to receive professional help. While most teens have minor body image issues, some problems that are so intense that they lead to depression and suicidal thoughts. Being there for your teen can help you catch these symptoms early and protect your teen from doing something dangerous.
Turn It Off?
Parents whose teens are dealing with media-induced body image problems are apt to unplug the television and throw away every magazine in the house. However, this may not be the best solution. After all, the moment your teen leaves the house, he or she is likely to come across the media you’re trying to shield him or her from.
So instead of shielding your child from the media’s messages, talk with your child about the messages. Is it unreal that people look perfect at all times? Yes. Is it worthwhile to try to look like a movie star or starlet at all times? No. For a little extra encouragement, hop online and search videos that highlight the power of Photoshop. Then your teen can see how hard the media works to portray a false image of what they deem perfection!