Both boys and girls can be unhappy with their bodies. Believe it or not, as a parent, you have more influence than you think to help your kids develop a healthy body image.
1) Teach kids about media.
Help them develop a healthy skepticism about the media. Make sure they understand the airbrushing, photo manipulation, personal trainers, cosmetic surgery, and other tricks used by the beauty industry and celebrities.
2) Limit exposure to television — particularly commercials.
Talk about what kids see, to counteract the effects of images that parade before their eyes.
3) Watch what you say.
AdvocatesforYouth.org asks, do you criticize your own body? When you put yourself down in front of your kids, you’re telling them that it's okay not to like yourself. Children pick up on anxiety you have about your body, and may internalize their own unhealthy body image.
4) Be a good role model.
Your kids are closely watching your eating habits, and attitudes about your appearance and weight. Pay attention to the example you are setting, and make changes if you don't like what you see. Seeing yourself through your children's eyes can be great motivation for everyone’s healthy body image.
5) If a child is upset about his or her body, stop and listen.
Talk about why they feel this way. They may have unrealistic ideals about what they should look like. Discuss this, and why they might be unrealistic.
6) Emphasize other qualities over appearance.
Support your teen to develop talents and skills that have nothing to do with appearance. Recognize other things you love about them, such their sense of humor, dedication to school, or how they look out for their friends.
7) Talk about who your kids are instead of how they look.
Compliment them on qualities other than looks. Say things like, "You were such a good student today," or "You handled that situation well." It’s good to compliment girls on their assertiveness, and even their anger, with statements like, "I like how you stand up for yourself."