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Preteens – How to help them Develop a Positive Self-Image

As preteens sort through sometimes conflicting messages from parents, peers, and media, it can be challenging to guide them down a path toward positive self-image and healthful eating and exercise habits. So learn all about preteens and Preteens – How to help them develop a Positive Self-Image.

At the November 1 Preteen Alliance luncheon, Ann Tipton, MD, an adolescent medicine specialist from Kaiser Permanente, and Amy Jussel, a media expert and executive director of Shaping Youth, offered tools to help parents and caregivers meet those challenges head-on.

Dr. Tipton drew on her experience as a parent, as well as 20 years as the director of adolescent medicine at Kaiser Permanente in Oakland. She noted the developmental differences in preteen girls and boys (girls tend to mature earlier than boys), reviewed their dietary needs (aim for foods high in calcium, iron, and unsaturated fats, she said), and highlighted some essential points for parents and caregivers, such as the importance of modeling healthful eating and exercise habits to preteens and encouraging preteens to choose exercise activities that are rooted in his/her interests.

Amy Jussel, of Shaping Youth, noted that parents and preteens face a barrage of media messages that can undermine those healthy behaviors and negatively affect a preteen’s self-image. Well, let’s face it. When we ourselves were younger and experiencing our pre-teenhood, we also had tons of questions, didn’t we? We wanted answers to all sorts of questions related to our existence, our maturing bodies and minds, the opposite sex, our beliefs and religions, and so on. Never forget we all we young, too.

Ms. Jussel suggests using some of the same tactics found in junk food marketing at home with healthier options. For example, show preteens the ingredients in their favorite junk foods by actually making a pile of salt and sugar, and explaining how excessive amounts of these and other ingredients affect their bodies.

Ms. Jussel also recommended working with the other parents, teachers, coaches and caring adults in a child’s life to consistently counteract negative media messages. Ms. Jussel also offered several tips for food presentation to help make healthy snacks seem fun.

And preteens often have so many questions! Well, you will understand that the so-called “Encouragement Approach” usually leads to far better results and positive behavioral changes than a negative, repressive attitude towards young teens in puberty though we still see so many adults practicing the wrong attitude! If you’ll show faith in your kids, the results will be so much better. If you show faith, they will start to believe in their capabilities, their self-esteem will get a boost, and they’ll feel better about themselves. These young teens need to have the feeling that they’re being accepted just the way they are.

Very often, it is that period of the time that they are transitioning to middle school and please, just remember how difficult you found that time in your younger years. You will get much better results and appreciation if you address their positive elements, their good way of thinking, their good behavior.  If you start recognizing their improvements, you will sort effort. Just make sure you’ll show appreciation for all things they achieve and prise their contributions at home, in school, or in their communities.