Wanting our children to feel good about their bodies is definitely a big mom goal. It's not easy. Our kids are bombarded by photos of "ideal bodies" from watching TV to reading magazines and continuing in a big way as they start become more active on social media, where a great bikini shot is the pinnacle of teen Insta achievement. Given all of this, it's good to be aware of the signs your child may have body image problems.
Once the territory of older teens and adults, body image issues are cropping up earlier and earlier, in both girls and boys. Some of the signs may be obvious and can include eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia, but others can be more subtle. Dr. Diane DiGiacomo, a board certified child and adolescent psychiatrist in New York, has said in an interview with Romper, body image issues aren't always restricted to weight or tied into eating. Some children might be concerned about the size of their nose or the shape of their teeth. Dr. DiGiacomo also warns that sometimes a fixation with something on their body or a repetitive action, such as picking of fingernails or pulling of hair can be rooted in anxiety or obessive-compulsive disorder.
Michelle Viña-Baltsas, a certified intuitive eating counselor and body image specialist, feels that communication and awareness are the key to helping a child who may have body image issues. "The more conversations you can have with your children to determine what’s motivating their decisions, the better," Viña-Baltsas says, via email with Romper.
Here are a few things you may look for in your child if you are worried they might have body image issues. If you feel that your child's behavior is affecting their performance in school or their overall health, it's good to seek professional counseling for them, including cognitive behavioral therapy, a method that creates coping strategies by retraining a person's thinking and behavior. You can start with your pediatrician, who may have names of professionals that they can give you.