As we get back into the swing of the school year, it can be easy to forget the impact summer may have had on our teens. After months away, they are going back to seeing all their school friends on a daily basis, and might be feeling especially insecure depending on what they saw and felt over the summer. Teasing at the public pool, consuming body shaming content, and more can contribute to a negative body image in many tweens and teens. Here are some ways to help your teen develop a positive body image!
1. Speak positively about your own body
This is a great opportunity for you to lead by example! Let them know you are comfortable with your own body and how it looks, and model confidence and self-worth for them. When they see you only speaking well of yourself, it will teach them to do the same! Even though it might not always feel like it, your children will pick up on your emotions, attitudes, and behaviors.
2. Teach them to love their body for what it does, not how it looks
When you talk to your children about their bodies, be sure to emphasize what they are capable of over how they look. Instead of “You are so strong, look at those muscles!” consider saying “You are so strong, look at how you were able to lift that!” While it is important to compliment your teen’s appearance as well when appropriate, a healthy dose of attention to what their bodies are capable of helps reduce any unhealthy focus on appearance. With teens, encourage them to think critically about how others talk about and treat their bodies, and look deeper than the Instagram-worthy poses and filters their peers or role models may be using.
3. Make sure exercise always has a positive connotation
While comments about how hard a workout is or how you’re running so you can eat more may seem harmless, they will stick in your teen’s mind long after they are said. When you talk about exercise, make sure you use positive words to describe it! Exercise is a treat and a good life choice, not a punishment for eating cake last night. Make sure you display exercise in a positive light. Take the time to really emphasize exercise as something fun, something that glorifies God, and something that makes us feel healthier and have a better quality of life.
Now you are ready to help your teen develop a healthy, positive body image this school year!