Today’s conversation is one I never sit back on because it is very important.
You may already know at this point, but teens going through puberty can gain an average of 45 pounds in just a couple of years. This leads to A LOT of physical changes, but the mental and emotional effects are what we need to be keen to.
Disordered eating is something that as many as 1 in 10 teenagers go through at some point during puberty. Yes, it is more common in our daughters, but it affects our boys too!
Studies show that family life during this time matters greatly. Comments at school and social groups are already flooding your teen’s brain, so it is our job to provide them with a safe space that is free of criticism around their changing body.
Our daughters need to know that they are beautiful regardless of their weight and our sons need to understand that being tall or having big muscles isn’t the end all to being attractive. It’s important to set a positive example for your children throughout their life, but specifically in their teenage years when it comes to their physical body.
A few ways you can be sure to create a positive body image home environment:
- Be aware of your critical comments about your own body: As a parent, our teens mimic a lot of our self talk. If we are looking in the mirror critiquing our belly roll or wrinkles– our teen will be looking for the “flaws” in their bodies. Make positive comments about what you love about your own body and your teen will follow!
- Practice self-love exercises: Encourage your teen to tell you out loud what they love about themselves. You can give them an example such as: “I love that my body was able to help me get on the track team.” Make it a habit to have these types of positive affirmations about their body and watch their mentality switch to loving what their body can do FOR them.
- Recognize that there WILL be moments of being down: In a perfect world, our love and support would make our teen always be confident in their skin, but the truth is, they will have moments of being ashamed or self-conscious of themselves. We can’t protect them from Ava’s harsh comment at school or Will’s criticism in the locker room. Be aware of your teen’s struggles enough to catch them when they are feeling low.
This will help you learn what to keep an eye out for when it comes to signs of potential disordered eating. Keep being there for your teen, you’re doing a great job!