August 9th, 2017
Parent Talk
**formerly known as the Weekly Chatter
Self esteem, self worth, and body image
Low self-esteem, specifically poor body image, is associated with increased tobacco and alcohol use, according to recent research .

Self-esteem refers to a person's measure of self-worth and is directly related to a person's body image, or perceptions of their physical appearance. When children think poorly of themselves, their abilities and their bodies, they are more likely to feel depressed which can lead to unhealthy coping like drug and alcohol use, delinquency and promiscuous sexual behavior.

Parents are the best people to promote positive self-esteem and body image in a child's life.

Tips for supporting positive self-esteem and body image in children

Compliment their physical features (in a healthy, non-sexual way) and never criticize their looks.

  • Tell your daughter that she's beautiful and your son that he is handsome. A child who has heard their parents call them beautiful will be less likely to fall head over heels in love or become sexually active with a person just because that person thinks he or she is attractive.

  • Even overweight children are beautiful. When dealing with weight problems in the home, encouragement is always better than criticism and research shows that fat shaming doesn't help kids lose weight and can increase the likelihood and severity of obesity in adulthood.

Foster close relationships with each of your children. Listen to them, play with them and give them your undivided attention when you can. Research shows, kids who feel close to, supported and loved by their parents tend to have high self-esteem. Read the ACPeds blog post, The Importance of Close Parent-Child Relationships for more information.  

Limit access to the media, including television, secular music and the internet. Excessive exposure to screens (television, tablets, smartphones, computers, and video game consoles), especially at early ages, is associated with lower self-esteem in kids, research shows.

Teach your children healthy eating habits, encourage and support physical activity, and ensure that your kids get adequate rest on a regular basis . Healthy children look good because they feel good and focus more on health than physical appearance.

For more information on fostering healthy habits in kids, view the ACPeds webpage Lead Your Child to Good Health .
Sex differences in teen depression
Teen girls are more than twice as likely as boys to experience depression according to a recent study.

While some research speculates this difference has to do with sex differences in the brain, other research suggests environmental factors may also play a role.
So what can parents do to decrease the likelihood that their daughters (and sons) will develop depression?

  • Make sure to equally encourage daughters (and sons) to spend as much time as possible outside in physical activity. Though studies show that physical activity and spending time in nature can help ward of depression, research suggests that girls are generally less likely to receive encouragement from parents to spend time outdoors and participate in athletic activities.

  • Once again, limit access to the media, including television, secular music and the internet. Research shows that sexualized images of girls and young women in advertising, merchandising and media is harmful to girls' self-image and healthy development.

  • Monitor your daughter's (and son's) internet use, especially in relation to dating. Research shows that girls are more likely to experience severe emotional consequences from digital dating abuse.
  • Get to know your daughter's (and son's) friends and practice being a positive influence to them as well. Peer pressure can have negative effects on a child's mental health studies show, especially when friends pressure each other to participate in unhealthy behaviors like drug use and sexual activity.

  • Encourage your daughters (and sons) to practice sexual abstinence. Research shows that sexually active teens are more likely to suffer from depression and experience suicidal thoughts.

  • Teach your daughters (and sons) the importance of staying away from drugs and alcohol. Research shows that drug and alcohol use, especially marijuana, can lead to depression in youth.

Most importantly, research shows that feelings of family connected can ward of child and adolescent depression.

For more information, visit the ACPeds webpage, Family: the Best Medicine .
What is Autism?                                             
Families that have a child with autism know that there is often a lack of understanding from others on what autism really is.

Children with autism grow, learn, and have individual interests like other children, but they think in a different way.
For information on understanding Autism and supporting children and families of children with Autism,

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