TEENS AND BODY IMAGE

TEENS AND BODY IMAGE

It is important for both boys and girls to develop a positive image about themselves.  To be able to feel good about your body will lay the foundation to healthy development and healthy self esteem.

Its rather normal to feel insecure or confused during these years as each time we look in the mirror we are changing drastically.  Height, weight, shoe size, nothing size, … everything starts to change so fast.  

I look back at pictures of my kids taken within the same year and I can’t believe how fast they were changing.  Even their hair, their eyes, not to mention their voices.

These teen years are also a time where our kids are developing eating lifestyle patterns for the years ahead of them.  Habits and routines need to be healthy and parents as role models pay a large part of this influence.

Body image is not about how the teen body looks.  Its about how the teen sees him or herself.  Its about how they feel about the way they look, and how they think others see them.

Unfortunately having a poor body image may lead both boys and girls into using techniques that are harmful because they wish to change their weight.  Eating disorders may arise and so can mental health issues.

We have to realise also that we don’t need to totally criticise or monitor their food.  We need to monitor their healthy attitude to food.  Because the truth is, teens skip meals, eat lots when growing, eat less when playing etc.  We need to ensure that their attitude to food is healthy. They eat when hungry, stop when full, and don’t feel guilty about eating.  Try keep away from dieting habits as many risks are associated with this form of behaviour, for example the risk of developing an eating disorder.

Parents /adults need to be good role models.  This means being happy with your body, avoiding diets, and reframing from commenting on ones own or others body images.  So lets be real, I’m not saying all parents are happy with their body image, but the words we use can take it a distance.  Remember our kids have ears and they hear, and they become.

As parents we are the most important influence in our young kids lives. Lets do the best we can to shape their values, attitudes, and behaviours.

Let me share with you one mothers experience 

Child 1[senior year in high school]:

This child felt under pressure to have a “six pack” like the rest of his mates.

Despite that he is a tennis player and fit, the emphasis on the six pack was so important to be able to go to a popular crowded beach with girls. 

The other issue is being ethnic, and the body hair, on his chest, compared to other friends. He asked if he can laser his hair. And mum promised he would after the HSC. 

As for child 2, he broke his arm and couldn’t do sports for 8 weeks. As a result he put on weight and exclaimed he has man boobs.  He keeps saying he is fat, compared to his “genetically” skinny friends.  

The other thing he suffered from is not growing as fast as his class mates.  Meanwhile he is one of the youngest in the group as he is young for his year.  This made him very conscious.  Even his mates would call him a midget. He finally shot up a bit, but kids don’t realise that they grow up at different rates, and they hit puberty at different ages, some early some later. 

So above is a typical example of witnessing two teenage boys become concerned about their body image.  We see how this impacts socialising, and feeling empowered to do other things.  It impacts motivation to study as they are distracted by their thoughts surrounding their body image.

This parent was able to support her boys with positive language, honesty, reinforcement, reassurance, and even faced lots of resistance along the way.  She did what she knew was best at the time and this was to speak to her boys in the most positive language possible.  This may not have worked immediately, but it was the best thing for them to hear as it laid the foundation of appropriate reasoning to deal with their personal crisis.

Never dismiss that it is a crisis for the child.  You as an adult may not think it is, but in their eyes it is.  What kids say is important.  You may think differently, but remember, they are individuals on their own.

Another parent has a different issue with her teen daughter.  She is very “skinny” and so she gets called names at school.  Names such as “bag of bones”.  This girl is thin yes, but she is not ugly thin.  She has had a sudden growth spurt and she is thin.  She really wants to put some weight on her arms and her legs.  She is concerned about how others see her.  Unfortunately she also is caught up with social media and this plays a role.  She does not find herself unattractive, but she really doesn’t like her body.  Mum coaches her as best as she can as she guides her through these years which also involve friendship problems.  The nice thing here is that the child really values what mum says and the advice she gives.  (Some teens don’t want to hear what mum has to say).  Turning her focus on her own values and the goodness with in her self has given her the strength to be less bothered by name calling at school.  This is a great resource she has found that she can use as she encounters other challenging moments as a teen.

Did you know that Hypnotherapy can be useful for a number of issues.

Thats right.  Did you know that you can use Hypnosis to help remind you of your own resources.  Yep, those resources you possess that you don’t need right now but you may need one day.  

I had a client come into the clinic one day and asked me for a session.  During our interview she spoke so positively and neutrally.  In fact much of her negative experiences were dismissed or lightly mentioned  as a “pass by” kind of story.

Trained in Neuro-Linguisitic Programming I of course set myself out to listen to her language. And then I asked her about her goals for the session.  She said “I just want to feel good”. But she did not walk in feeling less than good? I welcomed the challenge.

It turns out, she has had hypnotherapy before in the past, and she remembered how good it made her feel.  She wanted a “feel good” session.  So I thought, lets get creative.  

We commenced with a pleasant induction; one suited to her lifestyle as she had explained it to me.  She shared a special memory which made her feel confident and empowered at one point in her life.  I used this as an anchor.  

Then I spent the rest of the session metaphorically suggesting powerful cognitions, beliefs and imagery.  To sum up, it was a picture of her best self.  Feeling comfortable with present day living, allowing yesterdays stories to remain in the past (accessing only when required and with less emotional attachment), and allowing tomorrow to be full of surprises, only planning for a predictable future and letting the rest be comfortably unknown.

Her feedback from the session was that she felt so good and energised.  This was the “top up” that she was looking for.  And you know what? Its so nice to know that you do not need to come in with something troubling you, to create a better you.  Why wait…. 

Hypnosis is kind, friendly, gentle, creative and I see it as self care.  I think Hypnosis creates a certain wellness, as it gives the conscious mind permission to just relax, so that the unconscious mind and can respectfully be re-nourished.

We try relaxing, we try yoga, we try meditations, …. Try Hypnosis.

First I absorb my client’s ATTENTION:

HOW I GET MY CLIENTS INTO A RELAXED HYPNOTIC STATE

I connect, empathise, build rapport, offer my energy and show my commitment.

I also carefully select my language to shift my client’s attention away from the conscious mind towards the unconscious mind.  I use words like: think, notice, feel, be aware, pay attention to.

Second, I BYPASS THEIR CRITICAL FACTOR:

The critical factor is the voice in the conscious mind that likes to question and analyse everything, and jump to conclusions.  The critical factor is useful in everyday life, but it may also dismiss things that are beneficial…

This then leads to a pattern or habit (and to get out of it may become difficult).

So we need the UNCONSCIOUS MIND!

The unconscious mind does not criticise or evaluate.  It actually accepts what is said.

So we can bypass the critical factor by telling a story.  Once involved in a story, the critical conscious mind sort of switches off.

The story can get spiced up with smilies, metaphors and lots of hypnotic power words.  Power words include imagine, remember, suppose, and just pretend.  (This forces unconscious engagement).

Using questions helps bypass the critical factor and it creates uncertainty for the client.  The important thing is the way questions interrupt the conscious mind.  For example;

How are you doing at this moment?

How are you feeling right now?

What is happening right now?

Third, I STIMULATE THE UNCONSCIOUS MIND

And this is where all the wonderful work gets done.

I hope you found some relevant information in this read.

Amanda Dounis

Psychotherapist

Positive Thinking Clinic

1/7 Magdalene Terrace, Wolli Creek, 2205

0458 850 850

www.positivethinkingclinic.com.au