Healthy view of self to help avoid eating disorders

Eating disorders are associated with being unhappy with the way your body looks and having low self-esteem. There are many ways adults can help children and teens develop a healthy view of themselves and decrease their risk of developing an eating disorder:

  • Compliment children about the things they do, not always on how they look. When commenting on how children look, focus on their eyes, hair, or smile, not on their height, weight, body size, or body shape.
  • Avoid making comments that link being thin to being popular or healthy.
  • Teach children to take good care of their bodies.
  • Avoid pushing children and teens to excel beyond their abilities in school, sports, or other activities.
  • Give children and teens some freedom to make choices that are appropriate for their age and maturity.
  • Hold children and teens accountable and responsible for their actions.
  • Talk with children and teens each day to find out what is happening at school and with their friends. Listen to their concerns.
  • Give children and teens support. Help them solve their own problems in ways that they think will work. Avoid giving too much advice or trying to solve their problems for them. Be prepared to help them if their solutions do not work.
  • Talk with children and teens about their heroes and favorite adults in their lives. Encourage them to have many different kinds of heroes.
  • Avoid criticizing other people for the way they look in front of children and teens.
  • Praise children and teens for the things that make them different from other people.

Last Updated: September 16, 2009

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