Did you hear what Sweden has done to help with self-image? They no longer have those Barbie looking mannequins in their stores. They started using life-like mannequins with softer looking bellies and fuller thighs (if you want to check them out here is the link: http://shine.yahoo.com/healthy-living/swedish-mannequins-cause-a-controversy--192108535.html). What Sweden may not have realized is they are helping to cut back on the ever rising issue of negative self-image. Let’s face it, every time we turn on the TV we are faced with that super skinny super model or body builder. This can lead to many self-image issues with today’s youth. But how do you go about talking to your teenage son or daughter about these things. It’s something that can be very stressful for both of you.

It is very important to keep the doors of communication open with your teenager. Now, yes I was at one time a teenager and I did not want to talk to my parents about anything let alone my self-image. Just keep these things in mind while trying to start the conversation about self-image. Treat your teenager with the same respect you would have them treat you; your body language is everything, if you come off as being defensive they may just shut down from the conversation. Further, don't let them see you being negative towards yourself. I know we all don't have perfect days. The only thing we ask here is that you don't degrade yourself in front of your children. You should work on not degrading yourself at all, but that's another blog for another day. Also, NEVER yell! Yelling gets nothing accomplished.

Avoid talking negativity about food! If your son or daughter wants that extra cookie. Don’t say to them, “Are you sure you need that cookie” or whatever it may be. Let them have that extra cookie. Also, saying how great someone looks just because they are thin isn't a great habit to get into. This can send the wrong message to your teenager, making them think that the only way they look good is if they are thin. Point out beauty in all shapes and sizes.

It seems like teenagers eat all the time. As they should, they are growing and moving. Have healthy drinks and snacks available for them to eat while they are at home,at a sporting event, or at school. This helps pave a way to a healthier lifestyle down the road and a better understanding of what foods are considered healthy and what ones are not.

Compliment the actions they do, not how they look. If your son or daughter wants to sign up for something they normally would not do compliment them! Tell them how much you support them and how much you are proud of them for trying new things. It’s important they keep moving! Show them that exercise is important. Try to incorporate it into a daily routine. Compliment them on their abilities. Let them know how wonderful they are. For more information, call (570) 253-2083 or visit us online at ymcawayne.com.