How To Address Your Teen's Body Image Issues (Slideshow)

It is especially difficult for teens to have positive body images, when they are hitting puberty and going through a wide array of changes, both physically and mentally. As parents, you want to help your children to feel their best, no matter what. And starting out as a positive parental influence as soon as possible is key to giving your child or teen a positive image they can carry with them. Self-worth shouldn't be about how thin you are or how attractive you are. A person should love his or her body....

Better Stress Management

Kids have a ton of pressure heaped on to their shoulders these days, from the need to excel in school, to the desire to do well in sports, or fit in with the popular crowd. It's almost too much pressure and it can cause children to crack a bit. Help your child or teen learn how to manage their stress and avoid body image issues that can lead to eating disorders. 

Healthy Body Image Activities

Try yoga. It's been around for years and years and has returned to the spotlight recently. Yoga is a great way to calm the body inside and out, to gain a connection with the body, and to take control over your life. Form a bond with your teens by going to a yoga class with them. 

Find Something They Can Be Proud Of

Teens need something they can be proud of to boost their self-confidence. They need to find a greater value in this world. Find them a hobby they are passionate about, like cooking or baking, over which they can be excited. When they succeed, they'll instantly feel more confident in themselves. 

Counteract Negative Media Messages

Let's be honest: the media can be more influential than we like. And when the media shows a particularly size as being standard, it can be challenging to think you are average instead of "overweight" or "ugly." Counteract those media messages by pointing out the positive attributes in people of all sizes and attractiveness levels. Note how healthy a normal sized human being looks over an emaciated TV stereotype. 

Make Family Eating Changes

If weight is something you're worried about, consider making a family-wide diet change. Encourage healthy eating patterns as a family. Nutritional counseling is often a helpful tool, but what it comes down to is that being able to make healthy choices for oneself is incredibly important. 

Learn to Recognize and Stop Negative Thoughts

Teach your teen to shut down the negative thoughts in their head. That nagging voice that keeps saying you aren't good enough? Counteract it with a positive thought or two. So maybe you don't have a thigh gap, but man, you have gorgeous. Overtake each negative thought by saying at least three positives. 

Become a Critical Consumer of Social Media

According to Myers, our friends can be more influential than family and television. And one way people and friends communicate is with social media, sharing photos and chatting. Take the time to really analyze social media and watch it with a critical eye, shutting down any negativity before it starts; and encourage your teen to unfollow or unfriend people whose activity makes him or her feel self-critical. 

Focus on What is Right and Positive

Children and teens, as well as adults, benefit greatly from a lot of positive reinforcement. Each day, tell your teen three things you respect, admire, and love about them. 

Love and Open Communication

It is important, as a parent, to build a bond with your child as early as possible. They need to know you are there for them, that they can trust you, and that you are their biggest cheerleader. Hearing this will only increase their self-confidence. 

The Oreo Method

You've probably heard this. Sandwich a negative criticism with two positives, like an Oreo cookie. It is important to always begin and end on a positive. It makes it easier to down the criticism if it is sandwiched with some positivity. Your teen will listen, respond, and will be able to make positive changes when they are positively reinforced.