Teenage Anxiety and Body Image Issues: Advice For Parents

Share Button



Lack of confidence in who we are, how we fit into the world,  and in our ability to handle a crisis can play a role in the development of an anxiety disorder.

According to Julia Friederike Sowislo of the Department of Psychology at the University of Basel in Switzerland,  low self-esteem was equally effective at raising the risk of anxiety as anxiety was at decreasing self-esteem.   For this reason,  I feel it is especially important for parents of teenagers to be mindful of the relationship their children have with themselves.  A positive self image can have a huge impact on how teenagers handle stress, conflict, and the ever increasing pressures and demands of the world,  when they become adults.

For teenagers, self-esteem issues most often stem from concerns over their appearance — which is perfectly understandable, since their bodies are transitioning and transforming at this important stage of development.

This article will discuss five ways you can help boost your teenager’s self-esteem by helping them appreciate their bodies and express their feelings.

1. Encourage your child to exercise, play sports — and meditate.

Childhood obesity is an alarming trend in America, affecting 20% of school age children. Not only does this have implications for their health later in life, but it could be taxing them emotionally even now.

You can help your child establish an active lifestyle at an early age. Sign them up for a team sport or running club — not only will they exercise, but they may also find new friends. Meditation has also proven to be an effective approach to weight management.

Studies have shown that those who lose weight and keep it off are the ones who do the inner work of exploring their motivations and overcoming the self-image issues that often lead to obesity.

2. Eat healthy.

Maintaining a healthy weight is one-half exercise, and one-half diet. According to recent studies, an alarming 90% of Americans don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables, and therefore lack basic nutrients and vitamins.

By establishing healthy eating habits early, your children will be more likely to continue their routine even after they move away from home.

3. Hobbies keep the mind active and creative.

Teenage body image issues aren’t the only factor in low self-esteem. Sometimes, the teenager can feel helpless, particularly about where they fit in the world. This can be compounded if they have siblings or friends who seem to have found their niche and are excelling in it.

You can help your teen discover their strengths and then encourage them to pursue them. Whether show strengths in arts, science, sports, or whatever field, try to find extracurricular activities that your teenager will be able to hone their skills at and come to enjoy.

4. Communication is key.

Parenting teenagers mean you need to be prepared to have effective communication with your teenager. Patience, support, and encouragement are your cornerstones.

Your teen needs to learn how to communicate as well — reading, writing, and oral communication competency are huge factors in building up their self-esteem.

Because success is often driven on how well someone can read, write, and speak, if your teenager feels that they fail at one or all of these requirements, it may cause them to cave in on themselves.

Take the time to either find them a tutor or other resources that can help develop these skills. Once your teenager feels that they are capable of effectively communicating, their confidence will improve.

5. Seek professional advice.

Sometimes you are not prepared to give the kind of care that your teenager needs. That’s completely fine. If your child starts to harm themselves, has frequent dark thoughts, or if you suspect them of bulimia or anorexia, then you should consider taking them to a therapist.

There is no shame in seeking outside help — these are trained professionals who have devoted their lives to helping teenagers.



4 thoughts on “Teenage Anxiety and Body Image Issues: Advice For Parents

  1. bookkooks

    Good article! Thank you for sharing it.
    Teenager to be difficult. It seems to me that you need to read and learn as quickly as possible. After all, it is really important in our time.

  2. Julie Hernandez

    I suffer from anxiety and depression insomnia about 10 years now. My 16 year old daughter was diagnosed with anxiety and depression in May this year 2018. We are both taking Med’s and therapy. It’s not enough for me I have brain fog tired all the time with little interest in life. My daughter is not able to go to school as she suffers from insomnia. I can’t think straight. I need help don’t know what to do

    1. AnnaLisa Scott Post author

      I think it is great you are both in therapy.

      I would also strongly recommend that you pay attention to your thinking patterns and how much time you spend inside your head. It has been my experience and the experiences of many people I have talked to, that too much introversion, introspection, overthinking and not enough time away from your thoughts and in the “real world” is a huge contributor to anxiety and depression. Some would say there is a chemical issue involved as well, and I will leave that to the experts to decide, but the overthinking aspect is a valid one in my opinion.

      I would also recommend you both find a passion. You have to find something that interests you and keeps your thoughts occupied. Keep looking until you find it. Doing this helped my anxiety so much. Your mind will always focus on what interests it the most. And if your level of unhappiness is what is feeding your main “thought pipeline”, you have to change that.

      You will also be amazed at how much more energy you will have when you find something new that interests you. So much of the tiredness we feel in life as we get older is not just fatigue. It is boredom. When we are young, new experiences happen all the time. As we get older, new experiences become less and less and life just becomes a little blah. I am certainly not suggesting this is the entire root of your problems. But it definitely can be a positive thing to introduce new, fresh things into your life.

      When it comes to sleep, the best thing to do in my opinion is just to quit caring about it. I know its hard. I know its a struggle getting through life on no sleep, but you must get to the point where you accept that you may never get a great night’s sleep again, and you will still be okay. Caring about not sleeping is a huge contributor to not being able to sleep. Its as simple as that. In addition, exercise to the point of real physical fatigue, if your doctor clears you for it, at least 4 days a week. Take hot baths, as hot as you can stand them, and soak for about fifteen minutes before bed. Develop a bedtime routine. All of these things can help, especially if you focus on giving up the overthinking as well.

      I wish you both well and much success with your meds and therapy. Read through my blog or send me an email through my contact page. Its hard to give thorough responses in the comments but all the info I have is here in the blog.

I'd love to hear from you.......

%d bloggers like this: