Talk with your kid about the pressure of looking good


Make-up, clothing, exercising, diets and hygiene are hot topics in young people’s discussions. We at EHYT talk to kids and youth regularly on various online communities. During those talks, it has become clear that appearance-related social pressure crosses children’s minds even if they are ok with their looks.

Puberty, school and friends as well as beauty standards created by media make sure that children feel pressured to look good. Therefore, it’s important that parents talk about it with their kids.

Obviously there are many factors causing issues with appearances. One of the much talked one is media with its unnatural beauty standards. Kids see people with flawless skin, zero wrinkles and white teeth and tend to subconsciously compare themselves with these media pictures. That’s why it is crucial that grown-ups have critical conversations with kids about media.

Picture: Sanja Ylikraka, EHYT

Picture: Sanja Ylikraka, EHYT

Numbers make it black and white

In discussions with kids, we’ve noticed that they pay close attention to numbers concerning weight, length and calories. Figures and averages make everything very black and white. Also here, it’s the grown-ups’ responsibility to give accurate information about nutrition, exercise and rest.

Adult presence is especially important during puberty when the changes in body and appearances can be confusing. We have experienced that the changes that come with puberty are sometimes seen as faults that need to be corrected.

Perhaps that has something to do with the media rarely presenting people with for instance skin problems.

Currently there are many applications that make it possible to keep an eye on nutrition and exercising. It’s also popular to share the achievements in social media. This combined with the selfie culture can make the pressure of looking good even bigger.


How to talk about this?

How to talk with kids about appearances and the pressure of looking good? First of all, you need to form your own opinions. When those are clear, the kid will take them into bearings and start thinking about their own choices.

The grown-up doesn’t have to be an expert with perfect answers. The most important thing is discussion. Talks about appearances might start from careless-seeming comments and small questions as well as from emotional explosions. Those are the situations when grown-ups need to be awake, listen to the kids and encourage them to talk.

About the author:

Petri Keskinen, EHYT

Petri Keskinen, 31, is a Finnish community pedagog with more than six years of experience in working as a web pedagog. Petri works at EHYT which is a preventive substance abuse work organisation. It’s funded by the Finland’s Slot Machine Association. watAgame is one of EHYT’s co-operation partners.