Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Avoid Eating Disorders. Weight Messages And Your Teen

figure in mirror

You'd think that an open conversation about weight would be an awesome thing between parent and teenager. However, as a recent study shows, the effort is dangerously counterproductive. 

Teens can look grown-up but they are still developing. As the study shows, they tend to be overwhelmed by talk of weight. 

Also, popular culture pushes the idea that success=thin and beauty= thin. 

Watching TV and being on social media is already enough for perfectly healthy teens to develop the false belief that they're fat, ugly and worthless. Anxiety and stress make these perceptions worse.

Therefore, an adult's well intended chat about weight or diet can trigger an obsession with losing weight and dieting.

This puts kids at a higher risk of developing an eating disorder. Statistics about anorexia, bulimia and binge eating vary from country to country, but figures have been increasing since the 1970s. Currently, roughly 1 in a 50 females and 1 in 100 males in North America and Europe are affected.

While therapy, medicine and hospitalization can all help, prevention is better than cure.

When talking to teens as an adult, here are some tips.

❌NEVER encourage dieting or calorie-counting
❌NEVER comment on weight, yours, your child's or other people's
❌NEVER tease teens about their weight

✔️ALWAYS exercise for fitness, not weight loss

Low self-esteem leads to feelings of shame and failure. This is why low self-esteem fuels eating disorders.

It is vitally important you help your teen build up confidence in themselves. 

Here are some tips:

❌NO! "You got an A. Awesome!"
❌NO! "I wish you were good at maths like your cousin."
❌NO! "You look thin today. Well done."
❌NO! "You look buff. Been to the gym?"
✔️ALWAYS focus on the child's good character, not their body or achievements:
✔️YES "I love the way you are kind to your friends"
✔️YES "You worked really hard on that project"
✔️YES "I'm proud that you're a thoughtful person"

Want to read more?  Check out these articles