As a mother of a teenager, this is a susceptible topic for me to talk about. I understand how helpless we can feel once we realise that our little ones are growing up and creating their own space in this wide world.
Our children are simply incredible in our eyes but they might experience a drop in their self-confidence during these crucial years of life. Our children grow through a series of new changes and transformations in these years and coping with them all at the same time is overwhelming and induces doubts in them. We can’t force our children into conquering their fears and doubts in a go but we can be a helping hand in their lives so they always have a support system they can lean on. Here are 5 brilliant tips for you as a parent that will help you in being involved with your teenage children and help them fight their battles against body shaming, self-doubts, and anxiety.
Build their self-confidence up, never compare to other children
The reason why your children are struggling with their bodies is that they’re comparing their bodies to unrealistic beauty standards. They meet their companions in schools, in shops, with family friends, and on social media. The content they consume through social media can be toxic and we don’t want to add to their insecurities. One of the ways we can achieve that is by not comparing our children with others. Every child is unique and so is their body, we must make attempts to make our children believe in themselves and feel comfortable in their skin without bringing others into the picture.
Lead by example
You can encourage them to exercise. At our home, I was the one who started practicing martial arts in my 30s, watching me train 3-4 times a week encouraged my daughter to start karate as well. Now she goes to karate 2-3 times a week. Sometimes she resists going to marital arts classes because of exams or homework, but as a mother, I stay firm and insist that she continue her classes. Sometimes I have to bribe her, sometimes scold her to continue and at other times I have to, let it go & accept that she won’t be attending martial arts classes. Parenting is all about being flexible and knowing that there is no winning against your children but working as a team to help them find their own identity and passion.
Never body shame your children
Unknowingly, as parents, we make mistakes too. Once, I interrupted my daughter while she was eating and told her that she’ll gain weight this way. Immediately, I was engrossed with a feeling of guilt and shame. I realized that I did the same thing that my parents used to do to me which led to a vicious cycle of food addiction. Through my therapies and self-awareness, I’ve learned that one should never shame others for their body or eating habits. Do not stop your children from eating, instead replace the food they consume with healthier food options. Try to inculcate the habit of being mindful of what they’re consuming and respecting their bodies and the food.
You can also start by encouraging your children to know and understand their bodies. Once they feel that they can understand themselves, they should practice radical self-acceptance. You can ask them to stand in front of the mirror and give gratitude for the body they have and practice acceptance of what they can’t change. Every curve is beautiful and each scar defines their journey through life. They shouldn’t feel ashamed of their bodies, rather learn to take pride in them and shower themselves with appropriate love and care. The more they show respect to themselves, the less they are prone to be subjected to body shaming by others.