It’s heartbreaking to watch your teen as she stares despairingly in the mirror critiquing her body for being too short, too tall, too chubby or too thin -- even if you find yourself doing it to your own reflection on a regular basis. Your teen is bright, beautiful and perfect exactly how she is, but no matter how many times you reassure her of this fact, she simply doesn’t get it. Unhappiness with her appearance can be damaging in a number of ways; she could develop an eating disorder, low self-esteem or even self-loathing.
Instill the knowledge in your teen’s mind that comparing her body to anyone else’s is a pointless endeavor. According to child development experts at the Kids Health website, every teenager’s body is different, and aside from eating right and exercising regularly, there is nothing your teen can do to change that. Accepting that she is always going to be taller than her friends or thinner than her friends is much more productive than wishing she could change it when she obviously cannot.
Refrain from allowing your teen to see you criticizing your own body, and do not criticize hers, advises the Mayo Clinic. For example, your daughter will always suffer from body image issues if she constantly hears you telling her things like, “A moment on the lips, forever on the hips,” even if she’s already thin and healthy. Speak positively about her body and allow her to hear you saying positive things about your own body and she’s much more likely to learn to accept herself -- self-perceived flaws and all.
Teach her to accept the body parts she can’t change and change the ones she can if they make her unhappy, advises Kids Health. For example, she cannot change her large shoe size, but if she is a few pounds overweight and wants to change that, encourage her. Encourage her to exercise regularly and to eat a healthy meal. Make it a point to tell her you’re happy to help her live a healthier lifestyle -- avoid telling her you’re happy to help her “get skinny” or “lose that extra fat.” To get her to accept her physique, she has to be happy with it. Your job is to promote health, not vanity.
Discuss the power of photo-editing software with your teen. According to the Mayo Clinic, the media plays a large role in your teen’s inability to accept her physique. If you can find pictures of celebrities both before and after photo-editing alterations, use those to help you make your point. When she sees that the very beautiful movie star on the cover of this month’s hottest magazine has cellulite or her thighs are bigger in real life or she suffers from the same acne problems as your daughter, she may learn to become more accepting of her own imperfections.
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