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Body Image in Teens

Updated on September 18, 2008
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Sunshine is a wife, mother of four, a relationship expert, a journalist, a photographer, a public speaker, and author.

As parents, we set the bar

Do you really even need to ask? Why is it that we live in a society where our children's health is at risk because they are either too fat or too thin? I am enraged at the parenting skills of this generation. We are our children's beacons, their leaders, their mentors, and their angels. As parents, we set the bar for who they will become. They weren't kidding when they said lead by example, and the proof is in our children.

At my house, we don't talk about weight. We don't use words like fat, or thin. My children are aware of size difference, but we don't focus on it, because it's not important. If it is spoken of, it's in the context of health, not size. I would never let them hear me say I was too fat, that I need to go on a diet or anything like that. We openly talk about the dangers of not eating right, exercising a little, hygiene, and not taking care of yourself. I don't deep fry anything, and there are always fruits and vegetables available for them to eat. We have cookies in our house, but they don't rule our lives.

My children do not sit on the Internet or play video games all day. They go outside, play, ride bikes, and hang out with friends. We plan active family outings, such as swimming, camping, hiking, and riding bikes. My grandma always said that idle hands are the tools of the devil, and I believe her. Here's a question, do your kids know how to play Chinese Jump Rope? Mine do. They also win every hula contest they enter in, and can swim like fish. Think about it. What are you filling your kid's time with? The better question is, what are you letting your kids fill their time with?

It's not rocket science I'm talking about here. If you feed your family fast food, your family gets fat. If you talk about how fat you are, your children will start wondering if they're too fat as well. You have to set the bar. When your children see you be active, they will be active. Introduce foods, and your children will see that trying new things is good. Don't talk about how fat some one is, or fatness will become an issue for your children. Plan active outings, and your children will learn an active lifestyle.

It's up to us as parents to start in the home. That is where children develop the tools they need to make choices for the rest of their lives. Set a good example for them, because you are the basis of comparison, like it or not.

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