Helping your preteen develop a positive body image
Created by Swapna Nair Updated on Oct 10, 2021
Mala was excited about going to school as it was her 12th birthday. She wore her new outfit and began to preen in front of the mirror. Suddenly a frown appeared as she wondered whether she was looking plumper than usual.
Manav was walking to school when his neighbour joined him. Manav glanced with envy at his friend who had begun to tower above him.
Familiar scenarios aren’t they? Girls become shy or conscious of their budding bodies, while boys become embarrassed about their voices or facial hair. There’s a lot going physically, emotionally and mentally, and one hurtful comment can make all the difference.
Body image is how we perceive ourselves. When a child is satisfied with his/her appearance, it means he/she has a positive body image. It influences one’s self esteem too.
So how can you, as parent, help your tween develop a positive body image? How can you help them grow into confident young adults?
Celebrity stories: Share stories that are real/situational to help your tween understand that sometimes it takes time for their bodies to develop. There are celebrities like Kate Winslet, Lady Gaga who prove to the world that each one’s body is special. For ex: Amitabh Bachchan was so thin and gangly when he entered the movie industry.
Gratitude: Keep emphasising the wonders of the body and its parts. This will lead to acceptance. Once a month, take your child to an orphanage—this will evoke empathy towards others and to oneself.Standing their ground: Help your child be assertive so he/she can tackle any teasing head on. If the teasing goes beyond a tolerable point, do take the help of the school authorities.
Be a role model: Are you raving and ranting about your figure/ complexion? It is time to take stock of yourself! You cannot ignore genetics or alter your basic physical traits. If you accept that, your child will do the same.
The importance of fitness: If health and fitness are part of your lives, your tween also will realise the importance of it. Help them understand the nature and quality of various types of food — carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins — and the importance of exercising daily.
A proper diet:Having meals together is a time to listen to your tween and be available for them. At the table don’t criticise the amount they eat. Instead, focus on their fitness through play and exercise.
- The influence of media: Observe what he/she watches. If it’s too idealistic then have a conversation about it. Point out the difference between reality and reality TV.
These are just a few of the ways that you as a parent can help your preteen/teen develop a positive body image. Do you have any other tips? Do leave us a comment below!