Teens who develop a negative body image and act on those feelings may wind up stunting their social, physical and mental growth, the U.S. Office on Women’s Health says.
Parents can promote a positive body image among their teens, foremost, by being positive role models, the agency says. That means eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly.
The agency suggests parents take these additional steps:
- Help your child understand that weight gain is a normal part of development, especially during puberty.
- Avoid negative statements about food, weight, and body size and shape.
- Allow your child to make decisions about food. Parents should make available healthy options.
- Compliment your child on her or his efforts, talents, accomplishments and personal values.
- Restrict television viewing to limit its effects on your child. When the child does watch TV, watch along with the child, and discuss any body-image issues.
- Encourage the child’s school to enact policies against size and sexual discrimination, harassment, teasing and name-calling.
- Keep open lines of communication with your child.