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Helping Your Teen with Body Image


Body image is simply the concept one holds about one's body. Self esteem is the concept one holds about oneself. These two pillars of self concept go hand and hand and are key components of your teens happiness.

By the age of 12, girls have seen around 77,500 ads according to one study done by the Dove Corporation. Needless to say, these images usually portray a perfected elite or athletic body standard to which girls may not feel they can live up too. Many teens are not able to deal with this constant "perfection pressure" and end up frustrated, angry and may even begin to loathe their own bodies as their self esteem disintegrates in the comparison.

As parents, it is our responsibility to help our children and teens understand several facts about our bodies and body image.

1. All bodies really are truly unique. We can never look exactly the way someone else does even if we were to adopt their exact diet and exercise regime. However, we can be healthy and active and truly achieve our own personal best. We can be proud of our uniqueness and make it an asset.

2. Body image goes hand and hand with self esteem. People with high self esteem love and cherish their bodies and themselves no matter what. In order to love and fully accept our bodies we must love and accept ourselves without condition, both inside and out. Our bodies are an extension of who we are, but we are not our bodies. We can change whatever we are unhappy with by changing the way we look at it.

3. Our body image as well as our self esteem can easily be transformed through the use of positive affirmations, visualizations, positive self talk and healthy living. These are easier to implement than you may imagine. Let's see how.

4. Together with your teen, begin creating a list of positive affirmations - one for you and one for your teen. State positive, good things about yourself, things that are true or things you are working towards, for example: "My body is becoming more firm and trim every day" or "I am strong and beautiful". You and your teen should each make a list of 10 or so positive affirmations and hang them up where you can see them daily. Remind each other to say the positive affirmations several times each day and hold them firmly in your mind.

5. Do some creative visualization with your teen. Talk about your ideals and goals and the importance of holding that vision in your mind while achieving the goal. Perhaps your goal is healthier eating and exercising every day. What will your body look and feel like? What will be different in your life when you do this? See yourself as happy and fulfilled. Hold these visualizations and concentrate on them for at least 5 minutes together each evening right before bed.

6. Positive self talk is a skill taught from early on and should be the only self talk going on. If you were to secretly get into the heads of successful people, would you hear " I am fat, lazy and stupid?" No, you would hear things like "I am strong! I can do this! I am successful and awesome!" This is the same type of self talk that you should train yourself and your teen to use. Make positive self talk your mantra throughout the day and help your teen do the same. Explain the importance of positive self talk. You have to have a winner's mindset and it cannot be temporary.

7. Healthy living is the only way to truly and fully live. Mind, body and spirit are all connected. When we are living in a healthy space - emotionally, mentally, physically - we naturally have high self esteem and feel great about life. Start to incorporate healthy eating and physical exercise into your daily life. Healthy eating and daily exercise, even by themselves, boost self confidence, immunity as well as our own "feel good" hormones - endorphins. It's hard not to feel in love with life and yourself when you're taking such good care of you.

8. Take a daily walk or jog with your teen. Not only is this beneficial for your relationship, but also helps boost your teen's self esteem about his or her own body! Take the time to prepare healthy meals together and share them sitting down at the family table. Simple things like this can make a world of difference to your teen's body image and your relationship.

All of these things are nourishing to the body, self-image and your relationship with your teen. So start today by implementing just one new thing a week. Make it a habit. Teach your teen to love and accept herself and her body just the way she is, while holding a constant image of success in her mind and using the power of creative visualization and positive self talk to achieve her goals.