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Body Confidence in Older Children and Teens

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When Body Image is an integral part of one’s identity. While it is normal to not be satisfied about every aspect of your body, this dissatisfaction can become a serious concern when it is excessive and the dissatisfaction restricts normal life activities. Unhealthy and unusual eating habits or exercise patterns could be warning signs that your child/teen needs help.

Shri participated in a panel discussion on boosting body confidence that was hosted by Body With Soul and Onaka for Prime Time members on 17 September 2013. Here is a summary of the key discussion points.

Body Image is an integral part of one’s identity. While it is normal to not be satisfied about every aspect of your body, this dissatisfaction can become a serious concern when it is excessive and the dissatisfaction restricts normal life activities. Unhealthy and unusual eating habits or exercise patterns could be warning signs that your child/teen needs help.

A negative body image can lead to serious consequences such as

– low self-esteem and low confidence

– low mood, unhappiness and personal distress

– inability to achieve a happy, healthy and successful life.

Body dissatisfaction can also lead to eating disorders such as anorexia and/or bulimia that can cause lasting damage both physically and mentally and can even be fatal when left untreated.

QUICK TIPS FOR PARENTS & RESPONSIBLE ADULTS

Focus on your child/teen as a whole person instead of weight, appearance etc. Emphasize their personality, achievement, skills and qualities.
Discuss the dangers of dieting. Encourage healthy eating as part of a healthy lifestyle. Remember, we diet to lose weight. We eat healthy to be healthy. Choose health over losing weight.
Show interest in exercise and activity. We are all more sedentary these days as a result of machination of our world. Encourage your child to be active (they do not need to run everyday or play a competitive sport) – spend time with the dog in the garden, kick a ball around, go for a bike ride on the weekend. Do not associate being active with losing weight.
Be a strong role model. Show your children how to think about and care for themselves and their bodies by modeling it yourself.
Show positive attitudes toward your body and appearance. Model healthy self-acceptance and self-compassion toward aspects that you do not like very much about yourself.
Show healthy eating behaviours and have regular, healthy meals. Do make healthy food choices and do not skip meals. Enjoy tasty food, do not always count calories and keep treats for occasional pleasure.
Treat weight as a health indicator only; regardless of whether it is your children’s, yours or others. Minimize or avoid commenting on anyone’s appearance.
Finally, the social environment is full of messages about what body is attractive and desirable. Teach your child/teen to pay attention to useful, positive messages by encouraging them to think critically about what they see and hear.
Email us if you have questions or concerns about your child or teen.

By Shrimathi Swaminathan on 1 October 2013 at 10:53
Posted in Lifestyle and Behaviour, Teens

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Shrimathi Swaminathan