As teens' bodies grow and change, they can feel self-conscious and hyper-aware of every blemish and extra pound. They’re also bombarded with "ideal,” often computer-enhanced, body images that are impossible to measure up to. These messages can convince anyone that they’re too fat, too thin, too short, or too tall.
The good news is that, as a parent, you have more influence than you think to help your teen get through this tough time of life and create a positive self-image, no matter their size or shape.
Both Girls and Boys Can Struggle
Between glossy fashion magazines, TV shows, movies, and social media, teenage girls can get the impression that models and celebrities have perfect bodies and flawless skin. Many teenage boys compare themselves to the buff athletes and movie stars they see. They feel dissatisfied if their own bodies don't measure up.
Teens might even risk depression, eating disorders, and other dangerous behaviors in an attempt to achieve what they think is a perfect body.
Boys don’t usually talk about body image issues as much as girls, but that doesn't mean they don't have them. They can struggle with eating disorders, too. But parents and doctors may overlook them, even if they are alert to such problems in girls.
If you think your teen may be struggling with low self-esteem, what can you do? Try these simple steps to start taking action. Of course, if you notice major changes in your teen's weight or eating habits, talk to her doctor.
Teens, Body Image, and Self-Esteem: 5 Tips for Parents
1. Be a good role model. Your teen does notice.
Your teen is closely watching your lifestyle, eating habits, and attitudes, even if she seems to cringe every time you speak. Pay attention to the example you are setting, and make changes if you don't like what you see. You can start an exercise program, eat healthier, or turn off the TV and get moving instead.
Remember, your child will also model your attitudes about your body. So if you're constantly criticizing your hip size or thinning hair, she will learn to focus on her flaws instead of her good qualities.