Follow these guidelines to help your teen feel secure about who he or she is:
1. As a parent, wear your own weight and shape with comfort and pride. Work through your own negative attitudes, and your kids will benefit, too.
2. Sell your bathroom scale at the next garage sale. It's too easy to let the numbers on the scale determine how you feel about yourself. Besides, no scale weighs what really counts – your children's intelligence, thoughtfulness, and zany sense of humour.
3. Take the time to help your teen find a style that looks good on her. No one looks good in everything. You may be at your wits' end standing outside the store changing room, but resist muttering "If you'd only lose a few pounds, buying clothes wouldn't be such a chore.”
4. Challenge stereotypes, Ask whether the female star must always be wafer thin. Question whether the male lead could have developed those bulging muscles without steroids.
5. Discuss dieting. If your daughter knows that most diets fail, why would she start one? Educate your adolescent about the genetic basis of weight; discuss the concept of set-point.
6. Avoid fighting over food. Don't limit portions or ban certain types of foods. But do help your teens learn about nutrition so that they know what their bodies need to stay healthy.
7. Enjoy your food. Make sure your kids know that eating is one of life's great joys, that satisfying hunger is nothing to be ashamed of.
9. Don't comment on a teen's weight. Instead comment on his explosive science project or the superb job he did cleaning his room. You can't have both good self-esteem and a poor body image.
10. Don't let family or friends comment on your teen's weight. Stand up for your teen.
Excerpted from Understanding Your Teen: Ages 13 to 19 edited by Christine Langlois. Copyright 1999 by Telemedia Communications Inc. Excerpted, with permission by Ballantine Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.