Self Image in Your Child

Many teenagers and young people are feeling growing pressure to enhance their self-image and appearance. This is in part due to the ever-increasing pressures of social media. Young people are inundated with images more than they ever were before, and the photoshopped role models that they see on Instagram and Facebook are misleading and quite often completely unattainable. This can cause these young people to develop unrealistic expectations about how they should dress, how their bodies should look, and even down to the way in which they pose when a camera is put in front of their face. This can be damaging because, for teenagers, they are going through a phase of physical transition. All sorts of unusual things happen to the teenage body, from acne breakouts to body parts growing that hadn’t grown before, and generally a sense of not quite feeling that they fit into their skin. Of course, this is completely natural and normal, but to try and temper that with the latest ideas of perfection is quite simply unrealistic.

When you are faced with a situation whereby you are constantly trying to achieve an unobtainable perfection, it leaves you with a sense of disappointment and can have a massive negative effect on self-esteem and confidence. So when I work with a young person around their self-image it isn’t enough to just jump in with simple confidence-building techniques. We also have to address the perception that they have of themselves, of the media, and all other images that they may be getting exposed to. Unless we change young people’s thinking and perception of those things within a short period of time, they will again start to reduce their confidence levels by continuing to have unrealistic expectations of their appearance.

Another important aspect to consider when working with self-image within teenagers is that they begin to spend more time and energy tuning into the aspects of themselves that are good, worthwhile and attractive — the natural qualities that they have as people. There’s a saying within the world of self-development that states that you get more of what you focus on. This simply means that wherever you put your attention you’re going to tune into that and end up experiencing more of it as a result. This means for our young people that if their focus is on the parts of their body that they dislike, or on the features that they have and find unattractive, this is what will constantly jump out at them when they look in the mirror or when they think about themselves as people. When we turn our attention instead to the aspects of themselves that are brilliant, beautiful and worthwhile, those are the things that start to come to the forefront of their mind when they think of who they are. In this way, they will not just develop a better self-image, but they will also start to develop some self-worth.

There are 3 selves that are tied together quite strongly: self-image, self-worth, and self-esteem. It could be argued that you can’t have one without also having the back up of the other two. So whilst self-image may appear to be a superficial issue, it does tie in very strongly with self-worth and self-esteem because when we feel good about ourselves, we value ourselves more as people and we also feel better about who we are.

If you have a young person who is experiencing issues with self-image, I would strongly advise that you visit me for a free consultation session at my therapy practice in Essex. I work with children, teenagers and parents from the areas of Basildon, Billericay, Wickford, Southend on Sea, Chelmsford, Colchester, and Brentwood. Whilst self-image in itself may not appear to be a particularly pressing problem, if it’s left untreated it can cause further issues such as anxiety, depression, and in some cases even self-harming. It shouldn’t be underestimated that the pressure from society to look, behave and appear in a particular way creates a great deal of pressure on young people who already have plenty of stresses in their lives. So it is always better to address these problems early on, rather than to wait and see if they resolve by themselves. If you would like to book a free consultation, please get in contact with my assistant, Olivia on 07958 203 274

By Gemma Bailey

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