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1) Start the Conversation.

Terri Griffith, PsyD, tells parents to invite children to open up about what they’re seeing online without judging their choices; kids are likely to shut down emotionally if they are shamed or forced off social media without a conversation.

“It’s about creating space for communication and education,” says Charlotte Markey, PhD. And communication must happen before you can set any effective boundaries.

2) Model Healthy Behavior.

Be willing to examine your own habits and consider what your kids are absorbing from your behavior, Griffith advises. Ask yourself if you are consuming lots of weight-loss advice or if you’re hyperfocused on diet.

“If so, being a better example for your children to model can be just as important as what you say to them,” she says.

3) Watch Your Language.

Most of us could stand to retool our language when discussing food and diet. “We need to stop saying, ‘This food is healthy and this food is not healthy,’” says Pamela Ramos, MD.

Instead, focus on moderation and balance, and use a calm tone and neutral language to talk about food choices. Fruit juice isn’t necessarily bad, for example, but ­Ramos argues that drinking 10 juice ­boxes in a row won’t make you feel good.

4) Teach Skepticism Early.

Talking with your kids about social media sooner rather than later is crucial, says Markey. When your child starts using their first phone or iPad, “it’s the optimal time to sit down with them and use ­social media while you’re supervising them and having a conversation,” she advises. “Ask your kids, ‘Do you think that’s good advice?’ or ‘Doesn’t that look like it’s fake?’ Model questioning from the get-go so they learn to approach ­social media with skepticism, and so they can see that while this may be entertaining, it might not be real or reliable.”

This was excerpted from “How Social Media Usage Can Influence Your Diet” which was published in Experience Life.

Katie Dohman

Katie Dohman is a writer and editor in St. Paul, Minn.

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