Self image and body issues

The life of a teen is not easy. Teens usually have serious self image problems. The media devotes so much time and energy on projecting the perfect man and the perfect woman that children begin to feel inadequate. They feel awkward, isolated, and highly conscious of how they look. Societal acceptance of their looks is very important in their lives. It is a paradox that the teenager rebels and at the same time wants to be accepted by his society! Many teens have issues handling their own bodies. Anything and everything becomes an issue. Height, weight, hair colour, its length, spectacles, dental braces, clothes, school bags, stationery, almost anything becomes a part of the self image. The presence or absence of any one of the above could add to the problem. Sometimes as parents our expectations of how children should look also causes a lot of stress. Statements like ‘Why do you grow your hair?’, ‘Do you have to have such long nails?’ ‘Oh God! You got your nose pierced!’ could confl ict with their self image. Empower your child with a strong self image, which will help him love himself for what he is. Speak to him. Tell him what the media portrays in not always the truth. Encourage him to exercise. Simple household tips to fitness will help. Slices of lime in a litre of drinking water will flush out his toxins and give him the clear, pimple free skin that he craves for rather than the chemical combinations available in the market.

Teach them to dress according to their body shape. They need not fit into the tightest of clothes. They should just be comfortable in their clothes. Comfort will exude confidence. A positive calm and peaceful atmosphere at home, which aims at conveying to kids that they are loved as they are, will

give them the confidence to face the world.

Open Pathways   

Closed Pathways

What do you think?

You are too young to understand.

That’s a good question.

You don’t need to know that.

Don’t ever ask me that again.

I don’t know, but I will find out.

Why are you asking me that?

Do you want to talk about it?

That’s none of your business.

Why do you need to know that?

Do you need any help?

Don’t come to me if you mess up things.

Open Pathways Closed Pathways

How to Talk to a Teen

• Use a positive tone. If you are sarcastic and rude, your teen will not want to talk to you.

• Eye contact is essential. He will know he can trust you.

• Use open gestures. Avoid pointing fingers. Open your arms. Let them know their conversation is welcome.

• Hug and kiss your child. It works at any age.

• Keep your smile in place when talking to your teen.

• Stop what you are doing. Listen to what your teen wants to say.


Eating disorders

Rathi is 13 years old. She has a secret. And the secret is affecting her daily life. She can’t control herself from eating junk. She knows that these are unhealthy; nevertheless she enjoys them too much to not have them every day. But after eating them she throws up. This began almost a year ago. Rathi gained weight and soon found her friends teasing her for it. She did not know how to lose it so she began to force herself to vomit what she ate. This became a habit and today she knows she cannot control her urge to eat junk food. Devang is 17. Living in a family that loves its food, he is very conscious of how much he eats, more so because he is mortally scared of gaining weight. He eats as little as possible. He exercises really hard. Today he is gaunt and thin but at most times feels tired, sleepy, and sick. He also complains of frequent stomach aches. A huge issue that stares in the face of parents is the eating habits of their teenagers. While there is a media generated frenzy for the perfect body on the one hand, there are large varieties of junk food alluring them on the other. Thus, they either eat all the wrong foods or nothing at all, which can lead to dangerous eating disorders such as bulimia and anorexia. Bulimia is a state where the child eats too much food and is unable to control his food intake. But in order to ensure that he doesn’t gain weight by this unhealthy eating, he vomits the food out immediately after eating or uses laxatives to ensure weight loss. Anorexia is trying to limit the amount of food consumed so as to ensure that there is no weight gain. Initially people thought that only teenage girls suffered from eating disorders, but research has proved otherwise. Eating disorders stem from wrong eating patterns, eating the wrong type of food, and eating too much or too little. The culprit behind these disorders is a lack of confidence or the absence of a positive self image. A self-confident child will not have a negative self image and will not put himself through these dangerous situations. Watch out if you feel your child is obsessing about how much he/she is eating. Be aware of their eating patterns. Research shows that people with eating disorders have very low levels of two neurotransmitters—serotonin and norepinephrine—both responsible for the emotional well being of the child. Serotonin also helps manage information in the brain. Thus, children who have eating disorders are usually hazy and do not connect the dots as smoothly as they otherwise would.

Teach your kids the benefits of eating nutritious food. A healthy lifestyle will give them the comfort of being confident in their skin and they will not resort to unhealthy, life threatening tactics just to keep up their self image. Healthy food does not have to be boring food. Discuss the foods they like to eat and have a menu planned for them. Change this weekly so that they get to eat all types of food. Ensure that every type of food from the food pyramid is covered in the menu. Take popular food like burgers, pastas, and rolls, and make them at home instead, with your own healthy twist. That way you ensure that your teenager does not crave it outside.