Teenage boys can be tough to deal with since they’re hormonal, emotional, and oftentimes difficult to understand.
But as a father, it’s important to remember that even though they may seem like adults, they’re still children who need your guidance and support. One of the most important things you can do for them is to help them develop a positive body image.
Body image is one of the most important aspects of self-esteem, and it’s something that boys are especially vulnerable to during adolescence. Dads have a unique opportunity to help their sons build healthy body images by being positive role models and teaching them the importance of accepting themselves for who they are.
There are many things fathers can do to help their sons feel good about themselves and their bodies so let’s look at some of the best ways dads can improve their teenage son’s body image.
Talk about body image in a positive way
Dads must positively talk about body image with their sons. This means avoiding any negative or derogatory comments about your own body or anyone else’s. Instead, focus on the things you like about your appearance and emphasize that everyone is different and beautiful in their way.
Of course, the talk about body positivity shouldn’t be just in front of them and towards them – you should also model the behavior. Therefore, avoid any talk about dieting, weight loss, or anything else that could be construed as negative in front of your teenage son.
You should also be mindful of the way you talk about your own body. If you make negative comments about your weight, your son is likely to internalize those same thoughts and feelings.
Get familiar with biology and statistics
Many teenage boys feel inadequate because they don’t look like the models and celebrities they see in the media. It’s important to educate your son about how media images are often unrealistic and doctored beyond recognition.
Biological factors also play a role in body image and it’s important to remind your son that everyone is different.
For example, some people are predisposed to being taller or shorter, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Even though the average height for a 15 year old boy is almost 5 feet 8 inches, that doesn’t mean that your son is less of a man if he’s an inch or two shorter.
It’s important to help him understand that statistics don’t always reflect reality and that he shouldn’t compare himself to others.
Encourage healthy eating habits
Eating disorders are a real problem among teenage boys, and they often develop as a result of negative body image. As a father, you can help your son develop healthy eating habits by teaching him about nutrition and encouraging him to eat a balanced diet.
It’s also important to avoid making comments about his weight or appearance, as this can lead to unhealthy body image issues, but rather point out the importance of being healthy on the inside.
Additionally, you should make sure that your son has access to healthy snacks and meals, meaning having plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains on hand as well as avoiding processed foods. If your son is interested in trying out a new diet, make sure to do your research first to ensure that it’s safe and nutritious.
Encourage physical activity
Physical activity is a great way to boost self-esteem and improve body image, therefore dads can encourage their sons to be active by participating in activities together or simply by encouraging them to get outside and play. The type of physical activity doesn’t matter as long as your son is moving and enjoying himself so the focus is on the benefits of physical activity, such as having fun, being social, relieving stress, and improving overall health.
Additionally, you can help your son find a physical activity that he enjoys and that makes him feel good about himself. This could be a team sport, an individual sport, or something as simple as going for walks or running together.
Finding everyday activities to enjoy
Many teenage boys feel self-conscious about their bodies because they don’t like the way they look, so a great way to help your son improve his body image is to encourage him to find activities that he enjoys and that makes him feel good about himself. This could be anything from playing sports to painting to listening to music. Your son must find an activity that he’s passionate about so that he can focus on the things he loves about himself rather than his perceived flaws.
On the other hand, if your son is struggling to find an activity that he enjoys, you can help him by brainstorming a list of possible activities together. Once he’s found something that he likes, you can encourage him to stick with it by helping him set goals and offering support along the way.
Helping them understand puberty
Puberty is a time of many changes, both physical and emotional, and it can be a confusing and difficult time for teenage boys. As a father, you can help your son understand what’s happening to his body and why he’s experiencing these changes. It’s important to be patient and open-minded when talking about puberty so that your son feels comfortable asking questions and sharing his concerns.
Additionally, you can help your son deal with the physical changes of puberty by teaching him how to take care of his body, including showering regularly, using deodorant, and shaving. Helping your son feel comfortable and confident in his skin will go a long way in improving his body image.
Encourage positive self-talk
Self-talk is the inner dialogue that we have with ourselves and it can be either positive or negative. Negative self-talk can be very harmful, leading to low self-esteem and poor body image. Helping your son to practice positive self-talk means replacing negative thoughts with positive ones and focusing on the things he likes about himself.
For example, if your son is thinking “I’m so fat and ugly,” you can help him to reframe his thinking by saying “I’m healthy and I have a great smile.”
It can also be helpful to encourage your son to write down his positive thoughts about himself so that he can refer to them when he’s feeling down.
Although you may think that teenage boys don’t care about compliments, the truth is that they still need and appreciate them. Just like with any other human being, everyone needs to feel valued and appreciated, so make sure to give your son plenty of compliments – on his intelligence, on his sense of humor, on his kindness, and, of course, on his physical appearance if he exercises and takes care of his body.
On the other hand, avoid giving compliments that are based on comparison, such as “You’re so much better-looking than your brother” or “You have a better body than most teenage boys.” These types of compliments can do more harm than good by making your son compare himself to others and feel like he’s not good enough.
Teach them about nutrition and exercise
Many teenage boys have poor body image because they’re unhappy with their weight or muscle mass. While it’s important to encourage your son to eat a healthy diet and be physically active, it’s also important to teach him about nutrition and exercise in a way that doesn’t make him feel like he has to conform to unrealistic standards.
Instead of talking about weight loss, focus on the benefits of eating nutritious foods and being physically active. For example, you can talk about how eating healthy foods will give him more energy to play sports or how exercise can help him to sleep better at night.
Talk about the media’s impact on body image
In today’s world, it’s impossible to avoid the messages of the media, and these messages can have a big impact on body image. Many young men feel pressure to look a certain way and they compare themselves to the unrealistic images they see on TV and in magazines.
Therefore, you can help your son to understand that the media’s portrayal of men is not realistic and that he shouldn’t compare himself to these standards. You can also talk about the dangers of steroid use and other unhealthy behaviors
You can also talk about how advertising is designed to sell products and is not an accurate representation of real people. Helping your son to be media literate will help them not only to have a better body image but also to be more critical of the messages he’s bombarded with daily.
Fathers can play an important role in helping their teenage sons to develop a positive body image. By providing encouragement and positive reinforcement, fathers can help their sons to feel good about themselves and to have healthy self-esteem
It’s also important for fathers to talk to their sons about the media’s impact on body image and how advertising is not always truthful. Teaching your son about nutrition and exercise is another way to help him develop a healthy body image.
Fathers can be positive role models for their teenage sons by showing that they are comfortable with their bodies and that they appreciate all that their sons have to offer.