Child Health tlong05 | 7 years ago

How to Help Your Teen Build a Better Body Image

Sara takes nearly an hour to get dressed each morning, trying on one outfit after another only to toss them all in a corner claiming they make her look fat. Shopping for clothes is a nightmare, and she frequently skips lunch in an effort to shed pounds. Sara is 13 years old, and her doctor says her weight is perfectly healthy. What’s not healthy about Sara is her body image—the way she sees herself—and how it affects her sense of self-worth.

The Pitfalls of Puberty

Many teens struggle with their body image as they begin puberty. As girls develop fuller hips and breasts, they may feel self-conscious and fat. As boys become gangly, they may try steroids or hormones to help their muscles catch up to the rest of their body. Teens with poor body images are more likely to try risky supplements and fad diets, develop eating disorders, exercise compulsively or turn to alcohol and drugs. The messages kids get from the media are part of the problem. Your teenager’s ideal may be an impossible-to-achieve illusion of computer tricks and chemical and surgical enhancements. Help your teen build a better body image impossible-to-achieve illusion of computer tricks and chemical and surgical enhancements.

How You Can Help

What’s a parent to do? Encourage your teen to look at his or her accomplishments, not physical appearance, for a sense of self-worth, and try these strategies: Be media savvy. Explain how most media are created to sell, persuade or manipulate and teach how to view them critically. Discuss whether that waif model is really healthy. Focus on health. Help your teen set goals of being strong, fit and vital. Plan healthy, nutritious family meals and encourage more physical activity. Take up a sport or join a gym together. Watch your words. Lamenting your own image in the mirror or gushing about how slim a friend looks reinforces the idea that a person’s worth is defined by his or her body. Talk with your teen’s doctor. Seek additional help if your teen becomes obsessed about his or her body type or low self-esteem causes avoidance of social situations.