In today’s hyper-critical media environment, it’s easy for kids, especially teens, to develop self-image or body image issues. Nurse Rose Melendez, RN, head of the Emergency Department at Adventist HealthCare Washington Adventist Hospital, shares how you can help your kids to think positively about themselves. Rose Melendez

 

What does body image mean?

Nurse Rose: Your body image is how you see yourself when you look in the mirror or when you picture yourself in your mind. This can include what you believe about your appearance, how you feel about your body weight or height and how you feel in your body.

 

How common are body image issues in teens?

Nurse Rose: A recent study showed that two in three 13-year-old girls worry about gaining weight. And this isn’t just a “girl problem.” Another study showed that 18 percent of adolescent boys worry about their weight.

 

What kinds of health problems can result from negative body image?

Nurse Rose: It can lead to eating disorders like anorexia, eating too little, or bulimia, inducing vomiting after meals. Over one-half of teenage girls and one-third of teenage boys use unhealthy tactics to control their weight.

 

How can parents help their teens have a positive body image?

Nurse Rose: A child’s best example for a healthy body image is their parents. Here are some tips.

  • Be a good role model. Set an example of a healthy lifestyle by eating well, filling your home with healthy foods and exercising regularly.
  • Be positive. Avoid negative self-speak in front of your kids like, “Does this make me look fat?” Do not make negative comments about your child’s body or weight. Instead, compliment your child and help encourage healthy habits.
  • Teach your teens about media. Talk to your children about the use of photo editing tools and unrealistic body images portrayed in the media.
  • Focus on the whole person. Support your child’s talents and skills that have nothing to do with looks, like music, sports, arts or volunteering.

 

Most importantly, speak openly with your children about body image so they know they have a support system if they need help.

 

Are you or someone you know struggling with an eating disorder or body image problem? Adventist HealthCare Behavioral Health & Wellness offers a range of services to help both adults and adolescents struggling with these problems.


Additional Health Tips from Rose

Hear more health tips from Rose by tuning into WGTS 91.9 FM every Wednesday at 7:40 a.m.