Supporting your teen’s body image through out these key developmental years is crucial. Teenagers undergo and have to cope with numerous physical changes. We know that teenagers are usually very concerned with their physical appearance and what other people their own age think of them. This leads to them being sensitive and vulnerable to body image worries and sometimes lead to mental health issues.
At this age young people can be overly critical of themselves and may feel they are too fat, too skinny, too tall or too short. This feeling can lead them to spend time wishing they were different. When they don’t like something about themselves, it can result in self-esteem and body image problems. At this young age teens can be overly critical of themselves, and prone to thinking others have a negative perception of their image.
Eight ways to help support your teen’s body image
- Be a good role model. Examine your own body image and self-esteem and think about the messages you are projecting to your teenager.
- Compliment your teenager where-ever possible. Fathers are an important source of reassurance in this area for both boys and girls.
- Be supportive as they explore new looks and styles. This is a natural way of them exploring their identity and self-image.
- Listen to their concerns about body shape and appearance. Reassure your teenager that their physical changes are normal and that everyone develops at different times and rates.
- Be aware of the impact of negative body talk around your teenagers, about your own body, other people’s or theirs.
- Don’t put a lot of emphasis on physical appearance. Try to talk to your teenager about all the different aspects that make up a person, such as personality, skills and outlook on life.
- Keep the focus on being healthy. Emphasise a healthy lifestyle, eating, exercise and having fun.
- Teach realistic expectations. Analyse images of celebrities or influencers together with your teenager and discuss whether they are healthy or even realistic images to compare themselves to. Also remind them that many influencers on social media edit their images, and do not represent real life.