Body dysmorphia or BDD refers to the condition where a person obsessively focuses on what they deem to be the ‘flaws’ in their appearance. Today, as people’s lives get increasingly entwined with social media, they constantly compare their bodies with picture-perfect idols on Instagram that are mostly achieved through filters and photoshop. As a parent, it is important to look out for signs of BDD in your child and offer necessary assistance. While severe cases of body dysmorphia advisably need medical aid, listed below are a few ways in which you can help your child feel more confident in their skin, both inside and outside the home.
1. Refrain from commenting on anyone’s body.
Consciously or unconsciously, we often comment on people’s appearances – be it a remark on their weight or skin tone. Avoid making disparaging remarks about your child’s or anyone else’s appearance in their vicinity, which may fuel their insecurities.
2. Regulate your child’s access to weight monitoring devices.
It is natural for a child’s body weight to fluctuate as they grow. Making a weight monitoring device easily accessible to the child throughout the day can affect their mental health. Keep such devices out of the reach of your child, so that you can regulate how often they use them.
3. Create a safe space for your child at home.
It is important for your child to feel safe at home. If you as a parent are too harsh on yourself and reprimand yourself for every little treat you indulge in, your child may also adopt your habits. Be vocally kind to your body, and your child may find it easier to accept their own.
4. Ensure diagnosis of an underlying disease.
Often sudden weight loss or gain points to an underlying ailment, such as thyroid or PCOD. Early detection can help you consider the necessary lifestyle changes to incorporate into your child’s daily routine, to ensure that they have a good quality of life.
5. Educate your child on the “perfect body” myth.
Given the volume of highly edited and photoshopped pictures of models that circulate on various social media platforms, it is no surprise that the young minds using the internet are negatively influenced by these unattainable standards. As a parent, you can look up before-and-after pictures that are easily available on the internet of celebrities who have undergone body-transformative surgeries and show them to your child to break the illusion of the “perfect body” that is upheld and propagated by social media.
Body dysmorphia can affect anybody, regardless of their age or gender. As a parent, you can educate your child on the benefits of exercising which go far beyond weight management. Exercising can also prove to be a much-needed diversion from their mirrors which they constantly use to scrutinize their appearance. Look out for the signs of BDD and compassionately talk to your child about the same.