Continuing on with our blog series on How to Help Your Adolescent Develop a Positive Body Image, Smarty Expert, Ann Kreindler-Siegel, LCSW, MSW, MAEd, SEP, talks to us today about THE DO’S & DON’TS FOR PARENTS OF CHILDREN & TEENS:
The key to helping your adolescent develop a positive body image revolves around how we parent our kids on food, weight and body size. Here is a list of Do’s and Don’ts for parents and significant others in teens lives to help our children develop a positive body image.
1. Educate your pre-adolescent by the age of 8 or 9 as to the natural changes their bodies will go through as they develop. Explain to them that certain areas of the body change naturally, such as their stomachs, thighs, upper arms and hips, especially in females, so that as their body begins to change they will not associate the changes with no warning and feeling lost, confused and out of control.
2. Be healthy role models for your children. If you do have concerns or complaints about your own body size, do not share them with your sons or daughters. Talk instead to peers and significant others in private, away from the ears of your teens, so that you are always presenting a positive view of your own size to your kids.
3. Educate your kids about healthy food choices as they grow up but do not restrict, limit or criticize their food choices at any time. In the book, Preventing Childhood Eating Problems, by Jane R. Hirschmann and Lela Zaphiropolous, (available on half.com), these authors teach us to allow our children to make their own food choices. If children are encouraged to try all foods when they are young but are allowed to make their own choices, they will balance naturally what they want to eat and learn to listen to their bodies, rather than food rules that we often grow up with.
4. Never criticize your teens body size or food choices. Compliment your teen at every opportunity on their ability to take good care of their bodies. Remark on their beautiful smile, attitude or choices. Tell them they look and are beautiful as often as you can find the opportunity to do so.
5. Emphasize that beauty is from the inside out. Talk to your teens about who they are not what they look like. Do the same when it comes to role modeling how they, and you, talk about others. Don’t comment when you see someone in public who is larger or smaller. Never make it about how people look instead of who they are.
6. Keep the lines of communication open at all times. Talk to your children and teens about their lives. Encourage them to open up and provide a forum of unconditional love and acceptance at all times so that they never have to lie or keep things from you. 90% of parenting, in my opinion, is from a place of fear, especially as our kids grow and enter adolescence. Using the word don’t and telling them not to engage in certain behaviors is only laying the groundwork for an increase in their curiosity about what those activities might be like, such as smoking marijuana or drinking alcohol. Instead, educate them as to the real dangers and risks associated with these behaviors so that they can choose wisely.
7. Teach your children about bullying and teasing. Do not put your head in the sand and assume that your child will never be teased or bullied. Instead, warn them as to the reality of how others do bully and tease but teach them that bullying and teasing comes from a place of poor self esteem and an inability of these kids to feel good about themselves. Teach your children about compassion for others and how to feel badly for someone going through a hard time rather than trying to “fix” the difficulties of themselves or others. Messages of “fixing” only lead to shame, indicating to those receiving the “fixing” that there is something wrong with them.
8. Treat food and exercise as a family affair. Families that are physically active together and that eat meals together regularly help to provide more of a positive role model themselves and create a better atmosphere of education around food and exercise choices. Encourage your child to become involved in sports and be an active fan and participant in their sporting activities, whenever possible.
9. Be aware of the messages your children and teens are receiving from the media. Educate yourself on the shows your child watches by either watching them together or talking about their “take aways” from the shows they like. On the same note, talk to your children and teens about what they are reading, including magazines, and what they are learning at school, in their classes and from their peers about body size and food.
10. Create positive body image development as a family. Talk to each other about the messages you want to send as parents and include significant others, as well. Tell your children and teens that fat is a curse word and don’t allow them to name call or tease each other at home. Even teasing that people think is funny is not and hurts a child’s self-esteem and image.
Tune in next Friday as Ann gives her tips on HOW TO HELP YOUR ADOLESCENT BECOME A CRITICAL THINKER ABOUT THE MEDIA…
Ann Kreindler-Siegel, LCSW, MSW, MAEd, SEP is a Licensed Clinical Social worker in private practice in Charlotte, NC in the SouthPark area and has a dual Master’s degrees in Social Work and Counseling from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. During her career as a therapist, in addition to her specialization in treating people with Eating Disorders and trauma, she has also worked with numerous individuals and couples who have divorced, or are currently divorcing. Ann also teaches parenting workshops and works with many adolescents whose parents are divorced. She has worked in this field for 35 years and is trained in all modalities of therapy. Her most recent training is as a Somatic Experiencing Practitioner and she has received her SEP certification in 2010. Somatic Experiencing is Ann’s primary modality of practice mixed with psychodynamic, family systems and cognitive behavioral counseling techniques.
After earning the Certificate in Executive Coaching from Queens University in Charlotte, North Carolina, Ann achieved credentialing as a Board Certified Coach (BCC) and a Collaborative Divorce Coach.
As a Collaborative Divorce Coach and licensed and trained mental health professional, Ann can be a valuable resource to divorcing couples. She can assist individuals and families in crafting parenting plans and the negotiations of their lives going forward, as well as settling anxieties that are common during separation and divorce.
Somatic Experiencing techniques are aimed at settling the nervous system and allow smoother transitions and a gentler style of collaboration. Ann continues to work as a therapist in private practice and has added coaching to her career to assist individuals and families to create their best lives going forward. In addition, she has spoken on numerous topics nationally and internationally on Somatic Experiencing, Eating Disorders, parenting, attachment, shame, and coaching.
You can find Ann at www.gently-transition.com.