Before social media was so prevalent in our lives, movies, TV shows, and magazines drove much of teenage body image. With the rising popularity of social media, people easily can hide their flaws by posting only positive pictures and statuses and it can be very difficult for teens to decipher what’s real and what isn’t. This lends itself to the possibility of everywhere to gain an unhealthy perspective on reality and how they should look. Now, more than ever it’s important to help your teen to have realistic exceptions and develop a healthy body image.
1. Be a Model (a role model, that is)
It is not only important to tell teens how they can have a positive body image but to show them how to as well. Be mindful of what you say about other people, body types and lifestyle in front of your teen. Speaking negatively of other people’s looks will show your child it is okay to do the same. Model positive self-image and confidence by speaking highly of yourself and being proud of your own body.
2. Make Exercise a Way of Life for the Family
Exercise can be an integral part of developing a healthy body image. Strong bodies are important! An easy way to incorporate exercise is to do it as a family activity, like playing sports, hiking or swimming. Taking care of your physical body is just as important as taking care of your mind.
3. Buy Healthy Foods
There are many options out there when it comes to giving your teen access to healthy foods and eating habits. Some people may look to eating mostly plant-based foods while others might look into a carnivore diet. Whatever your eating choices are in the family, make sure your teen has many healthy foods readily available to them. It can also be a good idea to teach them how to cook meals for themselves at a young age, by encouraging them to take charge of their own healthy eating habits.
4. Have Open Conversation
When you have open and honest conversation, your teen is more likely to come to you in times of distress. It is important not to judge when they make poor choices, but rather to help them learn from their mistakes. There are many tough subjects parents have to face as their teens grow up. The earlier you begin to have open conversation with them, the better.
5. Monitor Social Media Usage
While teenagers tend to thing they know everything when it comes to social media, they are still in need of your guidance. As parents, it’s completely acceptable to monitor your kids activity on sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and SnapChat. Let them know you have their passwords, you follow them and that you are watching them as they make choices. Social media is a privilege, and they have to earn it.
6. Give Them Opportunities to Have Real Relationships with People
One of the biggest problems with social media these days is that it prevents us from having a real face to face relationships with people. Give your teen plenty of opportunities to connect with people in real life. It can give them confidence when out in social situations, going for interviews, and an overall sense of themselves to know they have real people to turn to in difficult situations. Teach them how to converse with others and how to solve everyday problems. They might not love the idea, but someday, they will thank you for your efforts.
7. Focus on More Than Just Looks
Ultimately, teenagers need to know there is more to them than just looks. While it is important for them to have a healthy body image, it shouldn’t be the only thing they put effort into. Praise them for their accomplishments in school and in extracurricular life. Let them know how much you care about them, no matter what happens. Whatever their talents or hobbies are, focus on the positive and give them compliments for their efforts. Having a healthy body image is important, but there’s more to life than just their body.