It’s a hard world for anyone under the age of 18. It’s a hard world for people of any age, but specifically, anyone who is still growing and developing! Being surrounded by images of perfection and being glued to your phone screen is a deadly combo, and trying to get your teen out of the habit is nigh on impossible. That’s why it’s so crucial to open a dialogue around self-image, and how it changes as we get older. Here are a few ways to get the conversation started without being met with groans and slammed doors.
Mention What You’ve Noticed
It’s easy to see when a teenager feels bad about their self-image. They wear clothes that are baggy or hide their figure, they spend a lot more time in their room than they used to, they don’t go out with their friends quite as much, and they might even eat less than usual.
As a parent, get involved at this point! Head upstairs and see if they want to chat. If it was me, I’d mention what I’d noticed, and ask if something has happened to make them feel bad about themself. No pressure, but just let your teen know you can be spoken to about it.
Let Them Know No Image is Shameful
No body image is shameful – simple as. Nothing they see online is really real either, as there are a million different tools you can download these days to change the way you look in photos.
And if they’re constantly being targeted by images that represent little to nothing of what they look like, it’s best to talk to them about why that occurs. Everybody feels bad, and everyone can feel shame, but who really says that a body shape is wrong? No one!
Bring Up Their Unique Qualities
Every person in the world has something special about them. If your teen is struggling with that idea, and wants so desperately to fit in but feels like they can’t, do your best to remind them. They’re unique and they still have a lot of growing to do. Bring up some of their unique features and talk about how interesting these make them.
If they’re wearing clear braces but their teeth are in great condition, or they get lower grades but have a very artistic mind, or they don’t have the kind of body shape they see everyone celebrating on Instagram, remind them why uniqueness is good. You are who you are, and there’s a lot more you can dedicate your time and attention to than unrealistic ideals!
Limit Their Screen Time
Finally, sometimes you’ve just got to rip the offending item away! Limiting screen time is a great way to get their mind off of a negative self-image, so try to lock down social media access for at least an hour a day.
A teenager’s self-image can fluctuate wildly. Help them bring it down to a stable level.