Answered by Team ParentCircle
The stuff that teens go through today and the worry it causes parents! So glad you have reached out to us. Puberty and its accompanying changes can play havoc on a young child’s thoughts and emotions. Body image becomes a preoccupation, and as natural as it may be, it’s one of the hardest things for a teen to deal with. The overkill of self-consciousness makes a teen very self-critical – nothing seems to be right with her. She will micro-analyze every feature of her body and find a million reasons why it’s not right. And no amount of convincing will change her mind! So, let's try something different, such as first reaching out to her emotions. Try to name the emotions a poor body image makes her feel – sadness, disappointment, envy, jealousy, anger, frustration, helplessness…Big and difficult emotions that you must help her get out of the way. Reassure her that it’s absolutely normal to feel these emotions – everyone feels them. This helps her acknowledge and accept her emotions and greatly reduces their intensity. Now it's your turn to share some of your own moments when you felt similar emotions, so you know exactly how it feels for her. This show of empathy makes her feel deeply understood. (Can you see how different this approach is from what you have been trying so far?) Encourage her to talk about all her feelings about herself and her peers. Give her a complete listen. The outpouring and emotional release are good for her. Follow this with a big, warm hug to comfort her.
Once free of the emotional burden she has been carrying within, she is now ready to apply her thinking skills. Facilitate this by having chats and discussions in which you can help her use critical thinking skills – logic and reason about media influences, over-expectations of herself, analysis of her thoughts, and how to challenge them by removing bias. These thought processes will assist your daughter in finding solutions to the body image problem. With your guidance and support, she can be steered towards activities, interests, and experiences to build her self-confidence.
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