Teens, Body Image, and Self-Esteem: 5 Tips for Parents continued...
2. Be positive.
Never make critical remarks about your teen's body. If she has a weight problem, you can be sure she's aware of it. Your comments will only make her feel more discouraged and could make the problem worse.
Instead, compliment your teen. Tell her what a pretty smile she has, or how that shirt makes his eyes shine. When you give positive feedback, you are building a healthy body image. Encourage other healthy habits, like good personal hygiene and posture, healthy sleep habits, and stress relief. When your teen is sitting on the couch, suggest you go out for a walk or run together or head to the gym.
If you feel you need more help, talk to your teen's school counselor or her doctor and work together to come up with a nutrition and exercise plan.
3. Teach your teen about media.
Help your daughter or son learn to be skeptical about what they see in magazines, on screen, and on the web. Make sure your teen understands the airbrushing, photo edits, stylists, personal trainers, cosmetic surgery, and other tricks that fuel the beauty industry and celebrity culture.
4. Put other qualities over looks.
Support your teen’s talents and skills that have nothing to do with how she looks -- like music, sports, arts, and volunteer activities. Show an interest in her passions and pursuits. Praise the good things you love about her, like how she can make you laugh, her focus on schoolwork, or the way she looks out for her younger siblings. Focus on health over looks whenever you can.
5. Make good health a family affair.
Your entire family will be healthier if you keep junk food out of the house, cook nutritious meals instead of hitting the drive-thru, and get active. But you don't have to do it all at once to make a difference. Just one small change can start building your and your teen's confidence and help you work toward bigger goals. If other family members share in these new behaviors, it will make your teen feel less isolated, too.
Start a nightly family dinner ritual if you don't have one already. Then, instead of turning on the TV, suggest a family walk. You could also offer to join a gym and go with your teen. It's OK to start out slowly, maybe being more active once a week, and then walk or workout more often over time. If you make a healthy lifestyle part of your family culture, your child will build good habits to last a lifetime.