TIPS FOR CHILDREN: Children should be reminded that everyone is different

“Children have told us that they feel self-conscious about their weight or their appearance.”

At this time of year, they are likely to see more content online that could make them look negative about their body image.

From April 2021 to March 2022, our Childline counselors delivered 5,085 counseling sessions on body image and eating disorders, a 6% increase from 4,787 in 2019/20.

Children told us they felt self-conscious about their weight or appearance, counted their calories, became obsessed with exercise, and worried about what other people thought of their eating habits.

Some of these negative feelings came from seeing images of other people on social media, which unfortunately is full of images and content that could make a child feel like they’re not good enough.

Features like filters and body shaping tools can distort a child’s view of someone’s body and make them feel inadequate, and they may not not realize that some images are not real.

Our counselors are always there to help young people who are struggling to feel good about themselves, but there are also conversations families can have at home that will help.

It is essential to remind children that everyone is different.

They should not compare themselves to others and we all have the right to be treated with respect.

To boost their confidence, ask them to write down three things they like about themselves and read them every morning, and suggest that they focus on hobbies or things they enjoy to build their confidence and their self-esteem.

As children get older, it’s natural for them to worry about their appearance.

But no child should feel like they have to change their body to fit in.

Remind your child that they can share their thoughts and concerns with other young people on Childline’s message boards and find out how others have dealt with similar concerns.

The Childline website also offers advice on any concerns or questions children may have about body image and eating disorders, and young people can also speak to our counselors by phone or online at any time.