Posted on August 18 2016
I have two teenage girls. One is my 15 year old stepdaughter and the other is my 13 year old daughter. My step daughter just came to live with us last year and she’s been a joy to have around. Body positivity is something I, myself struggle with, but I am sensitive to the fact that I need to help my girls manage body positivity in their own lives as well now that they are both active on social media and becoming aware. Here are some ways we are working on how to raise a body positive teenager not only for their own self esteem and confidence but so they can be an inspiration to others as well.
Skip negative self talk- We have a rule in our house- no negative self talk. That goes for adults and kids alike and is ANY negative self talk from phrases such as “I’m too stupid” to “My thighs are fat and ugly”, we don’t allow it. On top of not doing negative self talk, when it does happen, we remind each other. If my stepdaughter catches me doing it, she gently reminds me. I have noticed that negative self talk around here has greatly diminished and instead, I am hearing both from myself and my stepdaughter positive affirmations.
Have open conversations with your teens- One of the best ways I have found to help my teens feel more comfortable in their own skin is to make sure I am available to talk. Sometimes, they just need someone to gripe to about the messages that the media sends them about their looks or how they feel about themselves that day. I try to have open and honest discussion with them that includes plenty of ways to turn around these messages and thoughts they have into something more positive. In turn, they tell me they say these things to their friends to inspire them.
Watch what you say to others and in your commentary- It is so easy to not catch yourself when you make comments about other people’s bodies. If you run into a girlfriend at the store that you haven’t seen in ages, try not to say things like, “You look so young still!” or “ You are so thin now!” This sends a message that while you talk about body positivity, you don’t show it because you are still focusing on appearance. Instead, make a conscious choice to say, “How is your family?” or “Tell me something exciting that you did recently.” Most of all, don’t make snide remarks about things you notice in other people such as the awkward way someone stands or the clothing someone is wearing that you don’t approve of. Teens notice this and will model this negative behavior.
Pay attention to screen time, social media and even books- If you see ads on TV that are not body positive, this is a great time to get some dialogue going about what they think the message is and how it is not true. At the same time, help them find body positive accounts to follow on social media sites if they are interested.
Help your teens appreciate their body and what it can do- Challenge them physically so they can see what they can overcome and endure. This will help them see how powerful their body truly is and build self worth based on the mechanics rather than appearance of their bodies. Help them set goals that don’t have to do with appearance such as wanting huge biceps or a flatter stomach. Instead, make goals about completing a run or training for a competition.
Model good body positivity with your actions as well as words- If you enjoy doing 5Ks, invite your teens along. If you like weights, bring your teens with you and show them how strong they are. Make sure to not use defeating language with yourself such as, “I could have gotten a better time on that run if I was stronger.” Instead say, “I finished even though it was hard!” Focus on what your body CAN do and not what it can’t. Look for positive ways to encourage your teen to join you in physical activity so they can start to see how awesome it feels to find your inner strength.
Written By Christine Tolhurst from Saved By Grace Blog
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