Health Tip: Developing a Positive Body Image

Teens who develop a negative body image and act on those feelings may wind up stunting their social, physical and mental growth, the U.S. Office on Women's Health says.

Parents can promote a positive body image among their teens, foremost, by being positive role models, the agency says. That means eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly.

The agency suggests parents take these additional steps:

  • Help your child understand that weight gain is a normal part of development, especially during puberty.
  • Avoid negative statements about food, weight, and body size and shape.
  • Allow your child to make decisions about food. Parents should make available healthy options.
  • Compliment your child on her or his efforts, talents, accomplishments and personal values.
  • Restrict television viewing to limit its effects on your child. When the child does watch TV, watch along with the child, and discuss any body-image issues.
  • Encourage the child's school to enact policies against size and sexual discrimination, harassment, teasing and name-calling.
  • Keep open lines of communication with your child.

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