Mothers’ Attitudes Influence Teen Dieting

A survey from the UK teen magazine Sugar has found that 15 percent of girls 13-19 years old are regularly dieting. A young girl may be influenced to diet by comments made by their parents, pictures of exceptionally thin celebrities or models, and their peer group. If an adolescent girl has watched her mother try several new diets, she is 35 percent more likely to diet herself. Girls are also more likely to be concerned about their weight when they hear their mothers make positive statements about the attractiveness of slim celebrities. I am sure similar comments about slender friends and family members would have a similar impact. The editor of Sugar, Annabel Brog, summed these results up well with the statement, “Mums want the best for our daughters, but we live in a world preoccupied with body size, and inevitably daughters are picking up on, and assimilating, anxieties their mums have.”

We influence our children more than anyone else. They are most likely to pattern their choices and beliefs after ours, even when we tell them to do otherwise. If you hate your nose, your daughter will fear hers resembles yours. If you suffer from road rage, your child will be reactive when they drive. If you are physically active on a regular basis, your child will likely maintain that habit throughout his or her life. We don’t want our children to suffer from the same insecurities and struggles that we do. The best way to protect our children from the battles we fight is for us to conquer those battles.

If you do not want your child to eat junk food, not letting them have it or not eating it until they go to bed will not protect them; they will still know that it is in the house. Your best bet to protect your kids is to kick the habit yourself. When you lack the motivation to make changes for yourself, creating a brighter future for your children can be your motivation. Parents that monitor how their kids use the Internet, what they watch on TV, etc. may be forgetting to monitor the messages their kids are receiving directly from them.

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