As children go back to school, you may notice your children being more concerned with appearances than previous years. As children age, they become more aware of not only their own appearance, but also the way other people look. This is a great time to help children develop a healthy body image, and this foundation starts at home.

Having a healthy body image is associated with positive feelings, thoughts, and attitudes towards one’s appearance. It is important to help children learn to appreciate and feel satisfied with their body and appearance as it changes. This can be especially challenging in the years where puberty is creating many physical changes and hormones leave young ones feeling extra sensitive to any criticism or negativity. Part of body image is helping your young ones realize image is not just about how we look, but also recognizing skills, interests, and values that make up an individual as a whole.

Our society places high value on the looks of celebrities and figures who don’t always give a realistic picture of what a normal person’s appearance should reflect. Boost your child’s confidence by discussing the positive things about your their personality as well as complimenting them on things like their smile, their new outfit choice, or physical strengths, such as speed in a soccer game. Encourage your children to eat nutritious foods and stay active, not to focus on sizes and their weight.

The pre-teen and teenage years are a time for your children to build their own sense of style, and allow them some freedom to create their own look. You should also include some boundaries within this exploration, to help them to understand what appropriate choices are for their age and activity- including school clothing choices, makeup, etc. See below for tips on helping your child develop a positive and healthy body image.

Keep an Eye on Image

  • Be on the lookout for bullies. If you child is being bullied at school, be sure to notify the appropriate parties early to address the issue.
  • Be a good role model. If you are verbally self-critical or negative about your own body image, kids pick up on these cues.
  • Embrace diversity. Help children understand that they do not need to look or act the same as their friends or anyone famous, beauty comes in all shapes, sizes, colors, and personalities.

Sources:, Lifework Strategies, Adventist HealthCare. The Health Tip of the Week is for educational purposes only. For additional information, consult your physician. Please feel free to copy and distribute this health resource.