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Pre-Teens and Body Image

     Teens (especially girls) are highly self critical and often have a poor body image. These feelings can develop into eating disorders, dieting, weight gain and loss, which all have the potential for causing long term weight problems.

    It is important that teens develop a positive body image well before they reach their teen years, as girls as young as 6 think that they do not compare to what they think of as an ideal weight.

What can you do to help your child feel good about himself or herself physically?

1) Point out the fact that healthy, attractive people come in all sizes and shapes and help your child discover what she likes about her body (instead of focusing on what she thinks isn't perfect)

2) Keep your comments positive and realistic. A girl in early puberty (which can occur, in some, as early as nine or ten) may experience a significant weight gain as the normal body shape changes from angular to rounded. This is a normal passage of adolescence and should not be viewed with alarm and criticism by parents. It can help to reassure your daughter that her new shape is a positive sign of many more changes to come as she grows from little girl to woman.

3) If your child--either a daughter or a son--is overweight, seek medical help and advice. If a physician determines that the child does, in fact, need to lose weight, changing the family's eating and exercise habits to make such change easier for the child is helpful. Emphasize good health and fitness as a family instead of singling out the overweight child for a special regimen. Family health and togetherness--rather than attractiveness--can be a much more positive goal.

Related Links
General Tips
Parenting Tips
Disciplining Your Teen
Rules & Limits
Teen Behavior
Sex & Relationships
Sex & Knowledge
Talking About Birth Control
Talking About HIV & AIDS
Talking About Self-Image
Talking About Puberty
Early Development in Girls
Teaching Self-Esteem
Boy-Crazy Girls
Sexuality and Pre-teens
Drinking & Drugs & Pre-teens
Issues & Dealing
Problematic Teens