According to new research, 52% of teens have qualms with their body image, with one in 10 preferring to suffer in silence fat or too thin yet 1 in 10 would suffer in silence.
The Medibank 24/7 Health Advice Line research was conducted to coincide with Body Image & Eating Disorders Awareness Week (1-8 September), and quizzed teens and their parents. It found that 3/4 of parents questioned believed their teen would talk to them about weight concerns when in reality, once their kids hit 18 they are significantly less likely to speak to their parents.
Dr. Georgia Karabatsos, Medical Director of the Medibank 24/7 Health Advice Line, shares some advice for parents:
Model positive eating behaviours
Children pick up on and model their parents’ behaviours rather than our words. Live a healthy lifestyle without an emphasis on “dieting”. Eat meals with the family.
Model positive body image behaviours
Don’t criticise your own appearance or compare yourself to others. Try to be comfortable in your own body and show this to your children.
Talk to your children
Be open and talk to your children about everything, including their feelings and their friends. This means being accessible at times they want to talk which is not necessarily when you want to. This also means listening, being supportive and no- judgemental.
Encourage positive self esteem
Self esteem is an important protective factor. Encourage your child to have many and varied interests and friends. Encourage them in areas that do not place emphasis on body weight and size. Praise your child for good behaviours, actions and for trying rather than for the way they look.
Talk about media images
Images in the media are often unrealistic and airbrushed. This leads some to equate beauty with thinness and strive for an unattainable body shape. It is important to discuss this openly and in the cultural context.