- Be their role model
- Celebrate who they are
- Introduce mindfulness
- Teach positive affirmations
- Journaling and self-love jars
Body image and self-esteem issues are common human struggles, especially for those going through adolescence. The increasing influence of social media has vastly increased the impact of these struggles.
Generation Z and the oldest members of generation Alpha make up the current population of teenagers. They are the first to have had access to the internet and social media throughout their entire lives, as opposed to Millennials, who were only introduced to the internet when they were in their late teens or as young adults.
Studies have shown that while social media helps teenagers form connections, build communities and feel less alone, evidence suggests that excessive time spent online negatively impacts self-esteem and may be linked to future mental health problems.
As a parent, you may feel helpless in trying to help your child who is finding it hard to love their body. What can you do? How can you teach your teen to love their body?
How can parents promote healthy body image?
Be their role model 💪
As their parent, whether you’re actively aware of it or not, your kid is influenced by the way you treat others and the way you treat yourself. From day one, your kid observes, mimics and learns from your behaviour. So if you’re struggling to show love to your body, chances are your teenager is finding it difficult too.
- Check yourself and be careful about what you say about your body
- Shift your focus from fad dieting and extreme exercise goals, and instead work to find a balance of exercise and eating habits that works for your body
- Be aware of how you speak about their weight, hygiene, skin, style, and body. Remember that it’s not yours, it’s theirs, and if you don’t like the way they’re treating it because they may not know how, take this opportunity to teach them. And walk this journey with them.
Celebrate who they are 🎉
Peer pressure often leaves teenagers feeling like they have to fit in by looking, acting and having the same things as their peers and friends. Teach them to celebrate their individuality by showing an interest in the things they enjoy and learning about their hobbies or interests.
Don’t assign value to their appearance — even if you believe what you’re saying is positive, chances are they will cling to that and become ashamed when their body inevitably changes.
Introduce a mindfulness practice 🧘
This can be as simple as spending five minutes each day together, in which you sit at rest, focus on your breath and work to become present in the here and now. Or kick things up a notch with a guided meditation. How does this teach self-love?
We spend so much of our days in our head, thinking about the future, our anxieties and our past mistakes. This is extremely common in teenagers, especially those who are more introverted or reclusive.
Meditation and breathwork is all about being present in your body, and can help those stuck in their own thoughts learn to think clearer and focus on their current environment better.
Teach positive affirmations 🙇
When we look in the mirror, or when we consider ourselves and how we’re perceived, it’s easy to focus on the things we don’t like and wish we could change.
This can become habitual and can really impact self-worth and body image. Instead of allowing this to become the norm for your teenager, take the opportunity to teach them positive affirmations.
For example, instead of looking in the mirror thinking “I hate the way I look; I wish I were taller, shorter, thinner” etc. Teach them to look and highlight non-physical things, like “I am confident; I am creative; I care for others; I can make people laugh” etc. Because life’s about who you are, and not what you look like.
Journaling and self-love jars 💌
Dear diary moments and cheesy daily reflections? Not quite. Similar to teaching positive affirmations, this is about introducing the importance of self-reflection.
Encourage them to write down three things they’re good at, enjoyed about their day or love about themselves at the end of each day. Have them collect these in a notebook, or on strips of paper in a “self-love” jar. Make a practice of reading through these together at the end of each month.
This not only reinforces daily self-love, but they'll receive positive messages from themselves when they read these back, and eventually begin to hold onto these messages.
Is your teenager finding school difficult and is this impacting their self-esteem? Teaching them to ask for help is such a valuable lesson, and that’s where tutoring can help!