How to Help Kids Develop a Positive Body Image
Keeping Up Appearances: Helping Young People Develop Healthy—Not Harmful— Attitudes About the Way They Look
by Rhonda Franz
February is National Eating Disorders Awareness Month. According to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), 10 million females are fighting a battle with diseases such as anorexia and bulimia. Young people aren’t the only ones overly concerned with their body image. They are taking clues from adults. Recently published research by Michael A. Stefanone, PhD at the University of Buffalo, suggests that women’s self worth was closely associated with images they posted on social networking sites. Stefanone found that people whose self esteem was based on others’ approval were likely to share more photos online. Those whose self worth was based on less public factors like family support and “academic competence,” didn’t rely on social media to seek attention. The study acknowledges a focus on women’s physical appearance in our culture. Teenage girls are watching. If you have a teen daughter, here are some tips for taming the emphasis on physical appearance in your family and helping your child develop a positive body image.
Be vigilant about not allowing pop culture influences in the home. It is hard to escape airbrushed images in the media, but parents can choose not to allow subscriptions to magazines featuring gaunt, young cover models in revealing clothes and sexually suggestive poses.
Encourage health, not dieting. Fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and multigrain foods have all been found to help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and other health problems. Make sure your teenager knows how to eat healthy, which includes eating appropriate portions of food.
Your children are watching; show them how it’s done. A little makeup, brushed hair, neat clothes: all good. Think twice before bearing pushed-up cleavage, skin-tight clothing, or demonstrating an obsession in your own physical appearance.
Rhonda Franz is the Managing Editor of ParentingSquad.com, and food & cooking columnist with Peekaboo parenting magazine. She lives in the Northwest Arkansas woods with her husband and three young boys and writes about a variety of things at coffeehousemom.com.
Image credit: http://nierman.wikispaces.com