Boys and body image. Does your son look in the mirror?

 I had never given a lot of thought about boys and their body image until I became the mother of a son. And what an eye opener it has been as I watch him go through his tween years. Boys struggle with body image too; however it’s different then with girls. Boys typically don’t want to be thin, they want to bulk up, be muscular and strong.

Many inadvertently comment about how big a boy has grown. As if the growth or height of a boy equates to a higher status. Sure we know boys grow at different rates and people come in all different shapes and sizes, however that doesn’t matter in the eye of a young impressionable boy. If he has not started to grow, or is small in stature it’s “perceived” by some boys as type of deficit and a need to change. This can have a long-lasting effect on their self esteem.

We need to be sensitive with our young boys. They are impressionable. They too are influenced by the media, TV, magazines, family and friends.

How to help your boy feel good about his body:

  • Focus on his accomplishments, abilities and values. Not on his weight or height.
  • Encourage him to express his feelings and talk about what he deals with at school (e.g., teasing).
  • Listen to what he says about himself and others. Use these opportunities to talk.
  • Be aware of what you say. Pay attention to the comments you make about the appearance of yourself and others.
  • Discuss that genetics play a role in determining body shape and size. There is not one “ideal” shape or size.
  • Talk about media messages and stereotypes. Discuss how these unrealistic images can affect self-esteem and body image.
  • Help him to respect cultural differences in looks, activities and preferences. This will help him learn acceptance, tolerance and opens him up to new experiences.

Role model and encourage your family to live a healthy lifestyle; including healthy eating, physical activity and feeling good about themselves. I know that I am trying to incorporate these above tips to help my son navigate through this transition.

Share with us your thoughts and tips to help boys develop positive body image.

  • Leave us a comment below
  • Talk to us on Twitter: @haltonparents
  • Email us at haltonparents@halton.ca
  • Call  HaltonParents by dialing 311 or 905-825-6000 for parenting information or to speak directly to a Public Health Nurse (every Monday to Friday from
  •  8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.)

About Cynthia Lindsay RN

Hi everyone. My name is Cynthia Lindsay and I work as a public health nurse with the school years program. I've been a nurse for almost 20 years (wow time flies!) with the last 10 years focused on what I've discovered to be my passion... Parenting. I now have many parenting accreditations and enjoy connecting with parents in the community through Triple P, parenting groups & social media. "Je parle aussi le français" and I love working, making connections, and raising my teen son & pre-teen daughter with my hubby in Halton.
This entry was posted in Mental Health, Parenting, Physical Health, School-aged Children, Teens and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Boys and body image. Does your son look in the mirror?

  1. I love reading through an article that will
    make men and women think. Also, many thanks for permitting me to comment!

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