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How to help your teenager build a healthy body image

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In a world that heavily relies on social media and its trends to shape their life, teenagers are the ones that get badly hit and feel stuck when it comes to body image. Children in that phase of life, face significant pressure from society to live up to its unrealistic expectations about beauty, shape, weight, height, and everything in between. They are in a constant pursuit of getting the perfect body and that takes a heavy toll on both their physical and mental health. Here’s how teenagers can learn to deal with body image issues.

The term body image refers to the way how people feel, think, and perceive their bodies. When a child hits the age of adolescence, it gets difficult to maintain a specific body type and beauty due to major physical and emotional changes that occur during this phase of life. If children develop a negative thought pattern, they tend to fall prey to issues like depression, low self-esteem, eating disorders, low productivity at school, and the list goes on and on.

Health Shots got in touch with Dr Kamna Chhibber, a clinical psychologist, to understand ways in which we can help develop healthy body image in teens.

Ways to help teens develop a healthy body image

Teenagers are the most vulnerable lot. They tend to develop low self-esteem in regard to their bodies as they try to set unrealistic standards very high. However, our expert shares some ways in which parents and mentors can help them differentiate between real and unreal to understand reality better.

health body image in teens
Teens face body image issues after getting pressure from social media. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

1. Give them a reality check

The expert says, “Talk about what teenagers see on media as some images that are portrayed and can be unrealistic ideals for teens. Share with them how the digital manipulation is done on media, and tell them about the use of filters to create certain types of images.”

The children tend to believe whatever they see in media without getting their facts clear by checking into the happenings behind the backdrop. So, when they become a victim of social media pressure, the responsibility to give them a reality check lies on the shoulders of the elders. This will help them in overcoming body images issues.

Also read: Body positivity: What to say or do if your partner has a negative body image

2. Help them focus on their unique attributes

We all have our fair share of strengths and weaknesses, and our imperfections make us unique. That’s also the case with teenagers. We should help them recognise who they are in a wholesome manner by emphasising the other attributes that go into making them the people they are. We should encourage them to focus on the positive aspects of their selves, their achievements and skills, as well as the relationships they have built.

health body image in teens
After the rising use of social media and peer pressure, body image issues have risen among teens. Image courtesy: Unsplash

3. Help them become problem solves

When you find your teen dipping deep into that eddy of low self-esteem regarding their body, shake them out of immobility by motivating them to shift focus towards what they can do for their body in terms of health and fitness instead of staying focussed on the way they look. If they suffer from any illness or any underlying issue, ask them to use that as an excuse to adopt a healthy lifestyle with good eating habits.

4. Be mindful of what you feed into their mind

Teenagers are sensitive and extremely vulnerable at this stage of their life. “Be mindful of the language you use and do not shame or embarrass a teen for their eating habits or body type. Be a positive role model yourself so that your teen is easily able to understand and have a positive body image,” suggests the expert.

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