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As kids approach their teen years, it’s normal for them to become more interested in their appearance (and the appearances of others). Their bodies are changing rapidly as they go through puberty. Pre-teens naturally become more aware of how they look as they change physically.

Puberty affects more than a preteen’s physical appearance; body image is also influenced. A healthy body image is important throughout life. Having a healthy body image means that you have mainly positive ideas, opinions, and feelings about your appearance and body. It means appreciating your body and feeling satisfied overall with your appearance. A child’s body image can be affected by many factors including personal experiences as well as cultural messages and the feedback of others.

Body Image and Appearance

During the preteen and teen years, body image can be particularly vulnerable. This is largely because kids of this age experience so much change in appearance and cultural messages can easily fuel unhappiness with one’s looks. When kids are teased, or criticised about their appearance at this age, it can be especially hurtful.

You can boost your kids’ body image by being supportive and accepting as they try different looks. Offer positive messages and try to encourage qualities that keep physical appearance in perspective. For example:

  • Be accepting and understanding. Recognise that being overly concerned with looks is a normal part of the teen years. You may know that your daughter’s freckles don’t matter, for example, but they might matter a lot to her. Obsession with looks will diminish as they grow up.
  • Compliment often. Reassurance about their looks along with positive reinforcement of their other significant qualities matter. Remember to compliment not just appearance but also attributes such as strength, energy, balance, speed, and grace, as well as non-physical qualities such as intelligence or kindness.
  • Be a good role model. You’ll set a powerful example by how you talk about your own appearance. If you are overly critical about your looks, your child will be, too. Most people are dissatisfied with at least one aspect of their appearances, and this is normal – but focus instead on what you like. For example, you might wish your legs were thinner, but talk instead about how you appreciate that you can hike up a mountain because of how strong they are.

Where to Find Treatment for Anorexia in Sydney

If you do find that your child needs anorexia treatment in Sydney, contact BodyMatters Australasia. Anorexia can develop in response to complex factors. That means that despite your best efforts, it’s possible that your son or daughter could require Sydney anorexia treatment. With compassion and evidence-based treatment methods, our experienced counsellors can help. Contact us today to learn more.