Teens

Working with the GIRLS SCOUTS of Greater Atlanta

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Spring and Body Image

Spring … nature wakes up. It seems that it gathers vigor and potency to deliver the enchantment of renewal and then, a full summer. The birthing during spring may feel sudden as when chirping birds inundate our hearing one morning, seemingly out of the blue. Or, it may feel subtle and smooth as when one sees little green leaves and tender spruces come to life gently.Be it as it may, sudden or subtle for most people, spring is a lovely season.

But, for certain women, and for some men, the new sounds, smells and tastes of spring bring anxiety. The prospect of wearing lighter, more revealing clothing, more than announcing a change in weather, it signifies a tyranny and almost a torture. Why?

  1. Spring is the season where women begin to uncover the bodies that they covered for months. But for those with an eating or a body image problem, each layer of clothing that gets discarded brings on a layer of obsessing about body image, dieting and the impending need of a swimsuit. Young women, more than ever are shown and told to show more body that they were ever asked to shown before. In fact, we are at the point where nothing in a woman’s anatomy seems to be private anymore. Young women worry about the right shape of their If you do not know what your camel toe is, know at least that it does not refer to your feet or toes. Wikipedia enlightens you as follows:

Camel toe or cameltoe is a slang term that refers to the outline of a human female’s labia majora, as seen through tightly fitting clothes. Due to a combination of anatomical factors and the tightness of the fabric covering it, the crotch and mons pubis may take on a resemblance to the forefoot of a camel.

So, what is it that you can do to help younger and older women (and men) to welcome the renewal that springs brings on, with a sense of peace and relaxation and indeed, renewal? What can you do so that other women (and men) do not feel so insecure about their body and body image?

  • Now that spring is here, do not engage in diet talk. It feeds insecurities.
  • Do not ‘mince yourself’ in from of the mirror looking at JUST ‘a thigh’, ‘a stomach’, or ‘a hip’.
  • When you look in the mirror, do not put yourself down especially in front of your children. They learn by example.
  • Do not complain about clothes shopping and your body with your teen. Remember that it is the clothing, not your body what is at fault if something does not fit you well. One size or one style or one fashion cannot possibly fit all of us.
  • Remember that your insecurities during spring are valuable to big corporations that make money on the anti cellulite cream you buy when you feel bad about your body.
  • Do enjoy your body as it is. Breath renewal in doing the things you love to do.
  • Pay attention to the colors you will like to use this season.
  • Choose to shop, stores that have your style and sizes.
  • Respect that you as all others are not perfect. Have you seen Cindy Crawford’s’ unaltered pictures of her body? She is a regular person!
  • Remind your child or teen all of the above  when you tell her that spring is about happiness. Let him know that renewal is  never about perfection, it is just about rebirth!

What To Do If Your Teen Has An Eating Disorder

What To Do If Your Teen Has An Eating Disorder
by Iréné Celcer

Natalie is 16 years old, a straight-A student. She is looking into colleges and excited about leaving home. Six months ago, she began dieting: “I want to look good when I go to college and for the prom.” Natalie loses weight and at first, she seems happy. “I feel so grown up with my new clothes,” she beams!

One day, her boyfriend negatively comments on the looks of a girlfriend saying to Natalie, “ I hope you don’t gain the freshman 15.” Natalie freezes inside and reaffirms her efforts not to ever gain weight … by vowing to pursue dieting as it consumes her entire day.

15 Signs that Your Teen has an Eating Disorder

1) Your daughter no longer eats meat, carbohydrates or anything that contains fat.

2) Dieting is no longer one element of her life but an all-consuming activity.

3) Family eating becomes a battle. Your son refuses anything you serve.

4) Family events become impossible. No restaurant accommodates your teen’s needs.

5) Her weight comes off in front of your horrified eyes, no matter how much she reassures you that she is eating.

6) Your son isolates himself.

7) Friendships and social life become a thing of the past.

8) Grades go down.

9) Your daughter covers the body she worked so hard to make beautiful.

10) She becomes irritable and cold.

11) You see no joy on his life.

12) Exercising, purging or counting calories are the focus of the day.

15) Your teen uses a scale daily.

16) No matter what the number in the scale shows, he is unhappy.

17) She exercises unreasonably.

Tips for Parents

Eating disorders are very complex diseases. They are multi-factorial which means there may be genetic, biological, environmental and social forces at work. There may be familial forces at work too, but this is not always the case. In this instance, Natalie may be scared about leaving home and ambivalent about growing up. Genetically she may have always been the perfectionist type even if her parents never forced her to be driven.

The first thing to do, as a parent is not blame yourself! It is an important as you need to keep a clear mind to act appropriately, and not out of guilt! Once your son or your daughter crossed over from ‘just dieting’ into ‘problematic eating’ and finally into ‘an eating disorder’ you need to act quickly. Why? Because the eating disorder will consume her life and she will spend her days obsessing, counting calories, checking her weight, exercising or purging. The eating disorder sort of swallows up your son and engulfs the entire family.

It is very important that the family provides early treatment for the teen and seeks treatment for themselves if they need it. Studies show again and again that the sooner treatment is provided, the least the length of time the disease has gone on, the best prognosis the patient has.

What must you do?

1) Do not engage in fighting over amount of food eaten.

2) Do not try to convince your son to see things your way.

3) Let him know that, right or wrong, you are worried.

4) Explain that you have decided to seek an expert’s opinion.

5) Let her know that you will follow the expert’s opinion. And it may be, according to the expert’s opinion that she may need to see a doctor and a therapist. The professional will tell you how to handle things. (Your statement is not an invitation to discuss the issue.)

6) Research professionals to follow up with all treatment aspects.

7) Ultimately, trust your instincts. You will find the right help.

Irene CelcerIréné Celcer, 56, has extensive experience working internationally with men, women, and children who suffer from obesity, body image disturbances and eating disorders. She is a regular guest at CNN where she talks about her specialties on , food and disordered eating, parenting and bullying. Iréné holds graduate degrees in psychology from Universidad de Belgrano, Argentina; Holistic Psychologyfrom Antioch University, San Francisco; and Social Work from Yeshiva University, New York. She is is the author of the collection of books, Hope & Will Have a Baby (Graphite Press, 2007, 2010), 99 Tips to Reset the Table: Parenting in a Society Obsessed with Food, Weight, Obesity, & Body Body Image (Graphite Press 2015). She is also the author of some books in Spanish: Mujer, Cuerpo, Dieta? La Voz de La Obsesion/ Women, Their Bodies & Dieting: The Voice of an Obsession/ (Vinciguerra 1996) and La Tirania de las Dietas/The Tyranny (Planeta 1994). Her daughter is 15 years old.

When World News Produce Anxiety

This article is for your information only. It is not meant to give medical or psychological advice or to replace a visit with a medical provider. Please consult with a physician and a mental health professional on the topic. 

How to Recognize and Reduce Anxiety

Life is uncertain and uncertainty breeds anxiety. One of the most important task parents can do for their children is to help them feel secure in the world that surrounds them. The security acquired during infancy, childhood and adolescence is what allows adults to deal with the inevitable ambiguity of living, in a healthy manner. Although ambiguity is unavoidable, it gets highlighted when wars, natural disasters or diseases hit the home.

What do you need to know as a parent when a horror like 9/11, wars, floods, AIDS or Ebola hit home via the computer or the TV screen?

Let’s take the case of Ebola to talk about how children or teens may react:

  1. Children and teens may feel worried and fearful about the recent news reporting Ebola.
  2. It is important acknowledge the topic to decrease children’s and teems’ anxiety. Will they catch it at school or in the street?
  3. Children and even teens may feel threatened when they hear reports about Ebola in the United States, especially if they do not understand clearly what an epidemic means or, if the the issue of location is unclear to them.
  4. Constant news may increase levels of fear, stress and anxiety. If they TV is constantly on, or the news streams in constantly via the computer, their exposure may be beyond what their brain can assimilate.
  5. It is important to educate our youth about the sources of news.
  6. Knowing the sources of the news may help you, as a parent; understand why your sons or daughters are anxious. Rumors and misinformation about a stressful event makes the event terrifying.
  7. Be sure you are receiving updates from a reliable news source so you are not misguided about the true risk and precautions available in your community. You can tailor the information for your children according to their age.

Common Reactions of Children and Teens

As we discussed before, uncertainty breeds anxiety. When the uncertainty is felt in the macro level of the community, everybody may feel unsafe or less safe. But, children and teens may feel the added stress of the cushion they generally rely upon –parents- removed. The feeling of their support system less sturdy plus uncertainty plus the uncertainty of the news may cause physical, emotional and mental reactions.

Children and teens may feel an array of feelings such as confusion, anger, guilt or even rage. If these feelings are pervasive or if they do not go away after a few weeks, parents are advised to consult with a professional.

Children and teens that are scared about the world that surrounds them feel unsafe. When they feel unsafe they may have the following symptoms:

  • Feeling on edge and tense, nervous or irritable.
  • Tiredness that goes beyond what is the normal for the activity level they put out.
  • Feelings of exhaustion are a common complaint.
  • Paradoxically, even if they are exhausted children and teens cannot sleep.
  • Difficulty in sleeping in teens and children should be a red flag for parents.
  • Children or teens may have difficulty or inability concentrating on tasks at school or home.
  • Excessive emotionality can be a clue to parents that something is wrong: i.e. constant crying.
  • Need to be left alone to the point of isolation may be another clue for parents.

Helpful Tips for Parents to consider

There are simple steps that can be taken to help your child or teen feel better and more secure in a world that feels bombarded by unpleasant news and therefore, all of a sudden, less safe.

  1. Take time to talk to your child or teen. Make sure you do not ‘just’ ‘talk to’ your child but also hear him out as well.
  2. Pay attention to what your teen says and what worries her.
  3. Calm his fears down in a realistic manner. Do not promise what you do not really know with certainty, i.e. that no one will die or that Ebola will be eradicated.
  4. Let your child know that adult professionals are doing the best to keep them safe.
  5. Make sure they know they can always ask questions.

Should you ask for Professional Help?

You should get trained professional help if talking with your family does not calm your teen or child down. You will know talking to your child or teen has not helped because your teen or child will display behaviors that will show you that she/he is past the point of being anxious. You may see the following behaviors.

  • Inability to return to her normal routine.
  • Thoughts of hurting himself or herself  or others.
  • Your teen continues to isolate and talks to no one.
  • Grades suffer and go down.
  • Use of alcohol, drugs.
  • Friendships and social life are no longer important.
  • Problems with eating.
  • Self-cutting

 

 

Is my Teen ‘Just Dieting’ or Developing an Eating Disorder?

by Iréné Celcer LCSW, MAChildhoodObesity

Dear Reader: This is Part I of a four-part series…

Julie just turned 15. This is the third night that she chimes in about her meat, “Mom, this is disgusting …and cruel too!“ She also declares,  “I am a vegetarian.”
You are not sure what to think. (more…)