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Your Child's Body Image

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Jul 7, 2024.

What is body image?

Body image is the way your child feels about his or her body and physical appearance. Your child may like some things about his or her body but not others. Your child's thoughts and feelings may change over time. Body image problems can be mild or severe. A severe body image problem can lead to long-term problems such as anorexia. A healthy body image is an important part of self-esteem (thinking he or she is valuable).

When may body image problems start?

Body image problems are most common during adolescence but can affect children of all ages. You may start to notice your child focus more on his or her appearance right before adolescence. This is when he or she may start to become self-conscious or feel awkward. Your child may dye his or her hair often, get new piercings, or use heavy makeup. He or she may start dressing differently than before. These are all ways your child can explore his or her body image.

What increases my child's risk for body image problems?

What are the signs and symptoms of body image problems?

Some parts of a person's appearance will change over time. This may make negative thoughts temporary. Signs and symptoms that continue or become worse may be a sign of a more serious body image problem. Any of the following can become a long-term problem:

What can I do to help my child develop a healthy body image?

What can I do to help my child build a strong, healthy body?

Call 911 if:

When should I seek immediate care?

When should I contact my child's healthcare provider?

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your child's care. Learn about your child's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your child's healthcare providers to decide what care you want for your child. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.