How Are You Impacting Your Teen’s Body Image? : Parent and Teen Connection

How Are You Impacting Your Teen’s Body Image?

February 26, 20140 Comments

broken-mirror-3-379470-mNational Eating Disorders week runs through Saturday, and we’re focusing on this all-too-common problem among teens. Today it’s time to take a quick look at your behavior toward your teen. Believe it or not, but it can have a huge impact on the development of an eating disorder.

National Eating Disorders Week: How Parental Behavior May Impact A Child’s Body Image

As National Eating Disorders Week begins, (Feb 23-March 1), it’s a good opportunity to raise awareness of these devastating disorders, not only affecting individuals but significantly impacting loved ones and families. Teens are clearly at risk, especially in this age of constant social media, with readily available images of perfect bodies, and the continuing desire to attain perfection.

The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), formed in 2001, and sponsor of National Eating Disorders Week, is a major advocacy organization in the US working to help and support individuals and families affected by eating disorders.  Their goal is to focus on prevention, assist with better access to treatment, and advocate for broader and increased research backing to take care of those with eating disorders.

ating disorders include anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, as well as binge eating disorder, characterized by binging without the act of purging.

“Eating disorders are complicated and vexing problems and we don’t exactly understand the pathophysiology of them”, explained Dr. Aaron Krasner, a practicing psychiatrist, and Director of the Adolescent Transitional Living Program at Silver Hill Hospital in New Canaan, Connecticut. “Certainly there is both a genetic component and an environmental component.”

“For all psychiatric illnesses and eating disorders in particular, it is not a one size fits all remedy or a preventive strategy,” added Krasner.

Looking at the overall picture of those who develop eating disorders, one is reminded of the multifactorial nature of the disorder, and the underlying conditions which may predispose those to develop such a disorder.

It turns out that nearly 50% of people with eating disorders actually meet the criteria for having depression, with just 1 out of 10 men and women with eating disorders receiving some form of therapy.  And just about 35% of people that undergo some form of therapy for an eating disorder receive that treatment at a specialized facility for eating disorders.

In the US alone, it is estimated that about 24 million people of all ages and genders suffer from an eating disorder (anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder).  Unfortunately, eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any identified mental illness.

Leading by Example

Parents lead by example. Unfortunately, parents can also forget how their actions, thoughts and words can impact the lives of their children. When it involves body image and eating behavior, this can be especially relevant.   Krasner feels that parents need to be mindful of how they eat, their relationship with their own bodies, and the potential impact on their kids.

Based on more recent data, eating disorders are not only becoming more prevalent, but are also being noted in younger children. According to the National Eating Disorders Association, nearly 80% of 10-year-olds are afraid of being overweight.

While many factors contribute to the appearance and  development of eating disorders, a mother’s attitude regarding body image significantly influences how children view themselves.  One analysis found that a mom’s concerns about weight are actually the third leading cause of body image problems in adolescents and girls who believed their mothers wanted them to be thin and were two to three times more likely to worry about their weight. However, body image concerns aren’t just found in girls:  a study from the Harvard School of Public Health in 2013 noted that close to 18% of teen boys in their study were “extremely concerned” about their bodies.

In fact, casually discussing diet plans or describing a desire to lose weight when you are with teens or children can negatively influence your child’s body image.

Dr. Krasner offers constructive support and suggestions describing how parents can help promote a positive body image in teens and children:

1.     Try to avoid criticizing yourself or others about weight or shape in front of your children.

Read more at Forbes.

Often without realizing it, parents can lead their teens astray. Pay attention to your own body image struggles, and don’t push them off on your teen.

How Are You Impacting Your Teen’s Body Image?

Article: How Are You Impacting Your Teen’s Body Image?

Author: Robert Glatter

Source: Forbes

Filed in: Advice for ParentsHelp for Teenagers
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