Adolescents and their sense of their own body: how to prevent dissatisfaction

Adolescents and their sense of their own body: how to prevent dissatisfaction


Teenagers often feel shy when their bodies change in the process of growth. They can perceive the features of their appearance as defects, so many of them look for ways to deal with what causes dissatisfaction or close in on themselves.

“Through TV shows, movies and images on social media, teenage girls can be led to believe that models and celebrities have perfect bodies and flawless skin.

Many teenage boys compare themselves to athletes and movie stars. They feel dissatisfied if their own bodies do not meet artificial standards.” – says Oleg Shvets, president of the Association of Dietitians of Ukraine, public health consultant of the Ministry of Health of Ukraine.

In the process of adapting to changes in their work, some teenagers experience depression, they develop eating disorders and other health-threatening disorders.

How to recognize threatening conditions of a child?

In order to notice the problem in a timely manner, the MOH specialist recommends that parents pay attention to what signals signs of an unhealthy body image in children. In particular:

  • does the child consider and evaluate himself only in terms of appearance;
  • how the child describes himself, his physical development and attractiveness;
  • does he follow restrictive diets related to food restrictions;
  • often comments on the weight and appearance of other teenagers;
  • or has low self-esteem.

“Parents can have more influence than they think. Therefore, it is worth helping the child to survive this difficult period and create a positive perception of his own appearance, regardless of the size or shape of the body.”– says Oleg Shvets.

How can parents help a child perceive his own body?

Since the child closely follows the lifestyle, eating habits and views of the parents, you should try to be a role model for her. It is important for adults to pay attention to what they broadcast, and start the changes with yourself: move more, do sports and eat healthy.

“Remember: the child will also learn how you feel about your own body. If you constantly criticize your weight, skin or hair, the child will learn to focus on his flaws, not on the positive qualities.

Watch the comments you make about other people’s looks. Avoid stereotypes, prejudices and words like “ugly”, “fat”, etc. – says the specialist.

You should not make critical comments about your child’s appearance. Even jokingly.

“If a child has problems with excess weight, he already knows about it. Your comments can only make the problem worse. Instead, give the teenager compliments: about a beautiful smile or a shirt that matches the eyes.

When you give positive feedback, you create a healthy body image. Encourage other healthy habits, such as personal hygiene and posture, healthy sleep and stress management, walking and going to the gym.” – convince the Ministry of Health.

If necessary, it is also recommended to contact specialists who will develop a nutrition and physical activity plan for the child.

So that a teenager can accept his own body, parents too he should be taught to be critical of popular images. After all, the “ideal”, often enhanced images of the body that children see on television and in social networks mostly distort reality.

“Such images can convince anyone that they are too fat or thin, too short or tall. Explain to your child how the star and beauty industry works: that often the images are edited, and the images are worked on by stylists, make-up artists and even surgeons”– notes the public health consultant.

He also urges give priority to other qualities of the childinstead of concentrating on external features.

“Support the child’s talents and skills that are not based on appearance alone, such as music, sports, art and volunteering. Show interest in the child’s activities. Praise everything you like: sense of humor, attention to studies, caring for younger brothers and sisters” – explains Oleg Shvets.

Signs of eating disorders

Due to dissatisfaction with their appearance, girls often suffer from eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa or bulimia.

Guys usually don’t talk much about body image issues, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have them. They may also suffer from eating disorders, but they are more difficult for parents and doctors to recognize.

The first important signal of the presence of disorders is a change in the child’s weight or eating habits.

To symptoms of anorexia belong to:

  • large weight loss;
  • denial of hunger;
  • strict dietary restrictions;
  • too much training;
  • words that the child feels fat;
  • reluctance to be in society.

Among symptoms of bulimiai:

  • visiting the toilet immediately after eating;
  • consumption of large portions without weight gain;
  • use of laxatives or diuretics;
  • insulation.

“If you notice any of these signs in your child, see a doctor. Remember, prevention is key. Taking action early in a child’s body image development can help prevent self-esteem issues that can lead to a disorder eating behavior”, – calls the specialist.


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