March 29, 2018
Clinical Contributors to this Story
Stacy Doumas, M.D. contributes to topics such as Parenting, Women’s Health, Behavioral Health, .
By Stacy Doumas, M.D.
Jersey Shore University Medical Center
Negative thoughts about our own physical appearance cross every adult’s mind from time to time. For teens however, physical appearance can be a constant and reoccurring thought.
“Teenage years are a difficult time full of pressure… pressure to do well in school, pressure to excel in sports or activities, and pressure from peers to look a certain way,” says Stacy Doumas, M.D., child and adolescent psychiatrist from K. Hovnanian Children’s Hospital at Jersey Shore University Medical Center.
“Sometimes the pressure on how to look can go past style or clothing and can focus on the teen’s body itself. As bodies change, teens can put too much pressure on themselves to look taller, shorter, bigger, or smaller, and makes it hard for a teen to accept their body the way it is.”
Some tips on helping your teen adopt a more positive body image include:
- Having a good body image yourself – your teen will pick up your good habits.
- Eat family meals together
- Family meals lead to teens who are less likely to engage in questionable behaviors. This also promotes a healthier diet.
- Exercise as a family – Studies show that active teens have a better body image. This also provides an excellent time for open communication.
- Be their own personal cheerleader – Encouraging your teen in things they have done well in, whether that be a good test grade, or landing a spot in the school play – this positive reinforcement makes them want to continue to excel.
Nowadays, teens are highly influenced by the media. They may try to model their behavior after some of their favorite celebrities, athletes, and musicians. This can lead to an unhealthy or negative body image as believing they have to look a certain way is both unrealistic and unproductive. Take time to explain that your teen is exactly how they are supposed to be – and perfect inside and out.
If you notice any extraordinary warning signs such as excessive weight-loss or gain, extremely low self-esteem, or unhealthy obsessions with appearance, take time to speak to your child’s physician.