So, little beauties you’re going through puberty and suddenly your body is changing in weird and unexpected ways.
Like, one day you have no curves, and seemingly overnight you develop breasts or your voice drops an octave. As a teen, it’s totally normal to feel uncomfortable in your own skin.
The key is focusing on nurturing a positive body image. Teaching teens to appreciate their body for all the amazing things it allows them to experience and do can help ease discomfort over changes out of their control. This guide provides practical tips for teens and parents to foster a healthy body image during the tumultuous time of puberty.
The Changes Our Bodies Go Through During Puberty Can Be Overwhelming
The changes our bodies go through during puberty can be overwhelming. For both teens and parents, it’s normal to feel unprepared for these transformations. During puberty, our bodies are developing in response to hormonal changes, preparing us for adulthood.
Growth Spurts and Acne
Seemingly overnight, teens can sprout inches in height and shoe size. Acne often appears as oil glands become more active. These normal but awkward changes can make teens feel self-conscious about their appearance.
Developing Secondary Sex Characteristics
Girls develop breasts and start menstruating, marking the onset of fertility. Boys’ voices deepen and facial hair appears as testosterone levels rise. These visible signs of maturity may come as a surprise and take time to adjust to.
Mood Swings and Strong Emotions
Hormonal fluctuations can intensify emotions and moods, making them feel uncontrollable. Teens may experience periods of anxiety, sensitivity, and impulsiveness as their brains and bodies mature. Offering patience, empathy and a willing ear will help teens navigate these changes.
Promoting a Positive Self-Image
Reassuring teens that these changes are normal and temporary can help alleviate distress. Focus on their strengths, talents, values, and personality – not just physical changes. Avoid criticism and comparisons which can be especially damaging during this sensitive time. With love and support, teens can develop a positive self-image to see them through puberty and beyond.
Promoting Body Positivity and Self-Esteem from a Young Age
Promoting a positive self-image should start early. As a parent, instill these values in your child from an age to help them develop confidence and acceptance of their changing body.
Focus on health, not appearance
Emphasize living a balanced lifestyle and taking care of their physical and mental well-being. Help them understand that everybody is different and the numbers on a scale don’t define their worth.
Compliment character, not looks
Praise your teen for their kindness, humor, intelligence, and talents – not just their appearance. Make sure any compliments about looks focus on what they choose to express themselves, like a cool outfit or hairstyle, rather than attributes out of their control.
Discuss media images
Have open conversations about unrealistic societal beauty standards and how media images are often Photoshopped or airbrushed. Help put these ideals into perspective so your teen does not compare themselves to unrealistic portrayals of “perfect” bodies.
Set a positive example
Model the attitude you want to see. Avoid harshly criticizing your own body and exercise for health and enjoyment rather than obsessively dieting or working out. Your teen will follow the example you set, so make sure you show them self-love and acceptance.
Give them autonomy over their body
Allow your teen to make their own choices regarding their appearance as much as possible. Within reason, let them pick out their own outfits, and hairstyles, and participate in activities they enjoy. Giving them this independence and control helps to build confidence from within.
With patience, empathy, and the right guidance, you can help your teen navigate puberty with a healthy body image and high self-esteem. Focus on what really matters – their character, talents, relationships, and well-being – instead of unrealistic societal beauty standards. Promoting positivity and acceptance will set them up for success and happiness in life.
Having Open Conversations About Puberty to Normalize It
Having open conversations about puberty with your teen can help normalize this transition and ease anxieties.
- Talk about the changes ahead. Explain that puberty means their body is developing into an adult’s body that can reproduce. Discuss how their body will change, like growth spurts, body hair, oily skin, periods, or ejaculation. Answer any questions honestly and accurately.
- Share your experiences. Talk about your own memories of going through puberty. Be open about the challenges and insecurities you face. Hearing your experiences can help them understand puberty is normal and that the awkwardness will pass.
- Discuss healthy self-image. Explain that bodies come in all shapes and sizes, and the images in media are often unrealistic. Encourage your teen to appreciate their unique qualities. Compliment them for their character, skills, and personality – not just their looks.
- Set a positive example. Model the attitude you want to see. Avoid harshly criticizing your own or others’ appearances. Promote balanced nutrition and regular exercise for health rather than dieting or body size.
- Check in regularly. Make time for casual conversations to see how your teen is coping with the changes. Look for signs of distress like depression, anxiety, eating disorders, or bullying. Provide reassurance and consider speaking to a doctor if needed.
Puberty can be challenging, but with your support, your teen can develop a healthy body image and self-confidence. Keep the conversations going, set a positive example, and help guide them through this transition.
Focusing on Health and Well-Being Instead of Appearance
Focusing on health and well-being is one of the best ways to nurture a positive body image in teens. Rather than emphasizing appearance or weight, help your teen appreciate all the amazing things their body can do.
Exercise and nutrition
Encourage your teen to engage in regular exercise and make healthy food choices. Help them find physical activities they genuinely enjoy, whether it’s a team sport, dance, yoga, or just walking the dog. Focus on how exercise makes them feel good and strong rather than its impact on appearance. Cook nutritious meals together and discuss the benefits of whole foods for both physical and mental health.
Talk about body diversity
Have honest conversations about the diversity of human bodies and how beauty comes in all shapes and sizes. Discuss how bodies naturally change over time and that true worth isn’t defined by appearance. Your teen needs to know you accept and appreciate them as they are. Focus on character, spirit, and personality – not just looks.
Promoting health and inner beauty will help your teen build resilience against a culture obsessed with appearance and develop a positive body image from within. With your love and support, their sense of self-worth can thrive no matter what they see on the bathroom scale or in the mirror.
So, there you have it, some tips and advice for helping your teen develop a healthy body image during the tumultuous years of puberty. Remember that this challenging stage will pass, but the lessons learned will last.
Focus on open communication, set a good example with your own body positivity, limit exposure to unrealistic media images, encourage healthy habits and hobbies, and remind your teen that everybody is different and perfect in their own way.
With your love and support, you can nurture their self-confidence from the inside out. Stay strong and positive, even when the mood swings hit! Together you’ve got this.