Thursday, May 26, 2011

Like Mother, Like Daughter: Teaching Your Daughter to Accept Her Body

Ivana Pejakovic, B.Sc., MA

A girl’s belief about her body is influenced by many factors, including media, peers, fashion trends, impression management, and so on.

The media has been known to target young females. Insecure girls are more likely to try to attain the ideal body or obtain beauty products and clothes to help them achieve the desired body shape. According to the Canadian Women’s Health Network, even girls as young as 5 or 6 years old are attempting to control their weight.

Overall, media messages about thinness and ideal beauty tell girls they are continually in need of changing their appearance and perfecting their body. It is clear that intervention is necessary.

What Can Mom’s Do?

There is much research to suggest that mothers have strong influence over their daughters’ beliefs about their bodies. More importantly moms can act as a buffer when giving support and encouragement to her girls.

While it is impossible to shield girls from the media messages, peer influence and other external pressures, moms have complete control over what is discussed in the home, her attitude towards her own body, and what magazines and TV shows are considered appropriate.

It is important to understand that daughters are fully aware of what moms say, do, and believe. When it comes to body image and body dissatisfaction, a daughter will often criticize herself in a similar way to how her mother criticizes her own body. Mom’s continuous concern regarding her body shape can and will teach her daughter it is a valid concern. In addition, if mom focuses on a certain personal ‘flaw’, she tends to comment on the same physical flaw in her daughter.

The most important thing a mom can do to teach her daughter to accept herself as is, is to start accept herself. Mom's insecurities are often be copied by her daughter and accepted as a way of life. As such, it is up to moms to choose what example they wish to set for their daughters.

Here are a few tips to help your daughter overcome negative thoughts about her body.

1. If daughters copy the bad habits, it means they will also copy the good ones. Practice being a confident woman who respect's herself. This way you teach your daughter to focus on her strenghts.

2. Teach your daughter to be media literate. Teach her to question what she sees and hears on TV and what she reads in magazines.

3. Teach your daughter to appreciate physical health.

4. Teach your daughter she is worth more than just her appearance.

5. Do not criticize your body in front of your daughter. Provide her with a good example by appreciating your body.

6. Speak positively about food, fitness, and the natural body shape.

7. Be size positive. Let you daughter know that people naturally come in all sizes and body builds.

8. Practice self-care. Teach your daughter to practice self-care every day. This can be through personal time, listening to music, hygiene practices, or doing some stretches. Whatever promotes her psychological and physical well-being.

9. Encourage your daughter to be active and to enjoy what her body can do.

10. Praise your daughter’s accomplishments and personal values.

11. Discuss family values.

12. Share at least 1 family meal a day. Studies show that children who are a part of family meals are less likely to develop an eating disorder.

13. Initiate communication with your daughter frequently. Let her know you are her support.

Ivana Pejakovic, Life Coach in Toronto

Body Image Issues in Early Teen Girls: Effects of Media

Ivana Pejakovic, B.Sc., MA

Exposure to underweight models can have serious consequences to teen girls’ psychological and physical health. Research has shown that thin-ideal internalization is related to lower self-esteem, unhealthy dieting behaviours, and eating disorder behaviours (Harrison, 2001; Johnson & Wardle, 2005; Tiggemann, 2005).

Thin-ideal internalization refers to the extent to which an individual accepts or absorbs socially defined ideals of attractiveness and engages in behaviours to achieve this look. Research has shown that thin-ideal internalization increases body dissatisfaction, dieting, and negative affect (Keery, Boutelle, van den Berg, Thompson, 2005).

Body Dissatisfaction and Media

Body dissatisfaction, although common among females of all ages, is “especially prevalent during adolescence when body image is the most important component of adolescent girls’ self-esteem” (Hargreaves & Tiggemann, 2004, p. 351). Alarmingly, studies have found that even girls as young as 9 years old have considerable dissatisfaction with their bodies (Hill, Draper, & Stack, 1994).

Investigation of possible causes or contributors to body dissatisfaction in young girls has consistently pointed the finger at exposure to the unrealistically thin female body images in the media (Botta, 1999; Champion & Furnham, 1999; Stice, Spangler, & Agras, 2001).

Correlational studies have shown that young females who watch more television and who read more magazines report higher dissatisfaction with their bodies (Anderson, Huston, Schmitt, Linebarger, & Wright, 2001; Harrison, 2000). Experimental studies have shown that exposure to unrealistically thin and idealized female body images leads to increased state body dissatisfaction for adolescent girls (Durkin & Paxton, 2002; Hargreaves & Tiggemann, 2002).

Media Literacy

Considering the effects of media on teenage girls’ psychological well being, it is vital parents take steps to educate teens on media literacy. Media literate teens are able to analyze visual and audio messages received from TV, magazines, the Web, etc., and are able to critically think about them before they accept what they are exposed to as the truth. With an instinct to question the motives of the producers, teens can be less susceptible to the messages they receive.

Ivana Pejakovic , Life Coach in Toronto

Anderson, D. R., Huston, A. C., Schmitt, K. L., Linebarger, D. L., & Wright, J. C. (2001). Early childhood television viewing and adolescent behaviour: the recontact study. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, 66, vii-147.

Botta, R. A. (1999). Television images and adolescent girls’ body image disturbance. Journal of Communication, 49, 22-41.

Champion, H. & Furnham, A. (1999). The effect of the media on body satisfaction in adolescent girls. European Eating Disorders Review, 7, 213-228.

Durkin, S. J., & Paxton, S. J. (2002). Predictors of vulnerability to reduced body image satisfaction and psychological wellbeing in response to exposure to idealized female body images in adolescent girls. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 53, 995-1005.

Hargreaves, D. A., & Tiggemann, M. (2004). Idealized media images and adolescent body image: “comparing” boys and girls. Body Image, 1, 351-361.

Hargreaves, D. A., & Tiggemann, M. (2002). The effect of television commercials on mood and body dissatisfaction: the role of appearance-schema activation. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 21, 287-308.

Harrison, K. (2001). Ourselves, our bodies: thin ideal media, self-discrepancies, and eating disorder symptomatology in adolescents. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 20, 289-323.

Harrison, K. (2000). The body electric: thin ideal media and eating disorders in adolescents. Journal of Communication, 50, 119-143.

Hill, A., Draper, E., & Stack, J. (1994). A weight on children’s minds: body shape dissatisfaction at 9-yers old. International Journal of Obesity, 18, 183-196.

Johnson, F., & Wardle, J. (2005). Dietary restraint, body dissatisfaction, and psychological distress: a prospective analysis. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 114, 119-125.

Keery, H., Boutelle, K., van den Berg, P., & Thompson, J. K. (2005). The impact of appearance-related teasing by family members. Journal of Adolescent Health, 37, 120-127.

Tiggemann, M. (2005). Body dissatisfaction and adolescent self-esteem: prospective findings. Body Image, 2, 129-135.

Stice, E., Spangler, D., & Agras, W. S. (2001). Exposure to media-portrayed thin ideal images adversely affects vulnerable girls: a longitudinal experiment. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 20, 270-288.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Teenage Goal Setting - Preparing For Your Future

Ivana Pejakovic, B.Sc., MA

You may have heard by now that goal setting is very powerful. The types of goals you set or don’t set for yourself will determine the type of life you live.

Those who choose not to set goals, often find themselves wondering through life or latching on to other people’s goals. These individuals find themselves without a purpose and very dissatisfied with their life circumstances.

To prepare for the future you need to learn the following lessons that goal setting has to offer. First, you demonstrate to yourself that you are capable of achieving whatever you set your mind to. Second, you learn to believe in yourself. Third, you learn that everything doesn’t always work out the first time; however, with commitment and persistence you can make things work.

Below is a short list of important benefits that goal setting offers you. Each of these points prepares you for a positive future. When reading through, think about your life and how each point relates to you. Think about how this information can help you move ahead.

1. Keeps you focused: Having goals and knowing what you want to achieve helps you stay on track and focused. It makes distractions are less distracting. When you know what needs to be done you’re more likely to do it then when you don’t have anything on your agenda.

2. Keeps you moving and motivated. Goals keep you moving. If you have nothing to do, you have no need to go or do anything. When you have something in mind you are motivated to get it done.

3. Achieve your dreams: As obvious as it sounds, you can’t achieve your dreams if you don’t know what you want to do. When you set goals regularly, you get to know yourself and what is important to you. Getting to know yourself is ongoing work. You don’t need to know all the answers right now. You just need to figure out what would be cool to achieve.

4. Shape your life the way you want to: You may not know this, but you have complete control over your life. How you spend your time, working towards something valuable, or just hanging out without getting much done, completely determines what kind of a life you live. You are a very smart and powerful being, but you need to use your time and energy in a positive way.

5. Feel good about yourself: There is no better way to boost your positive feelings about yourself than goal setting. There is something about getting things done and moving forward that will always make you feel good about yourself. It makes you feel like a valuable and contributing member of your community. Not only do you feel good about yourself because you’ve proved to yourself that you are great, but positive feedback from others, is like a cherry on the top.

Remember your future is in your hands. Believe in yourself. Plan for it today.

Ivana Pejakovic, Life Coach in Toronto

Monday, May 9, 2011

Parenting with Shame and Guilt: Low self-esteem, Self-confidence, and Inadequacy

When it comes to raising kids, parents tend to use methods their parents used to raise them. Many parents remember saying, “When I am a parent, I will never do that to my kids.” Fast forward to several years later and you may find yourself raising your kids the way your parents raised you.

Parenting techniques are different from the family values and traditions that were passed on to you. Parenting technique refers to how you handle (congratulate or discipline) your kids in good and unpleasant situations.

In unpleasant situations, shame and guilt are often used as a form of discipline by parents, family members, teachers, and sports coaches. Shame is typically used as a tool for gaining control over a child with the threat that certain behaviours, attitude, or beliefs will lead to failure, family shame, or community judgement and exclusion.

Guilt on the other hand is used to make kids feel bad when acting against parents’ wishes. Further still, parents will continue to make kids feel bad about themselves until they do as is expected of them.

In time, kids learn that when things go wrong or when they do not behave according to standards they should feel ashamed of themselves. Eventually, these feelings are experienced automatically whenever things are less than perfect.

Consequences of Using Shame and Guilt as a Parenting Technique

Children who are frequently made to feel ashamed and guilty as they are growing up, often times develop the following problems:

1. ‘I am bad’ belief: Many times kids equate the ‘bad’ action they committed to who they are. When kids identify with the behaviour that is punished they start believing they are bad.

2. I am not good enough and am undeserving: Kids who feel ashamed have the underlying belief that there is something wrong with them. Because they feel there is something wrong with them they often feel they are undeserving of good things.

3. Avoiding others and social situations: Because kids with feelings of shame are uncomfortable with who they are, they avoid situations where they think others will see the real them.

4. Low self-esteem: Kids who believe they are bad, inadequate and unworthy also develop a low sense of self-worth or self-esteem. Since they feel there is very little that is good about them, they have a hard time feeling good about themselves.

5. Low self-confidence and self-reliance: Because they feel they are inadequate, undeserving, and unskilled, kids with a high sense of shame are often afraid to go after what they want and have a difficult time achieving their goals and dreams.

Shame is an unproductive and debilitating feeling that will keep kids from opening up to grow as human beings. As such, it is essential for parents to be aware of how their parenting techniques will affect their children.

Ivana Pejakovic, Life Coach in Toronto

Sunday, May 1, 2011

How to Reduce Teen Stress: Tips for Relief

Today’s teens live in a very different world compared to teens just 20 years ago. Because of the various changes such as advanced technology and greater media influence their lives have sped up and modified just as adult lives have.

Unfortunately, these changes have also brought a great deal of stress to teens. Because stress is related to many illnesses, both physical and mental, and to happiness and success, it is important for parents to help their children deal with stress and acquire stress reducing techniques.

What can parents do to help teens reduce or manage stress?

It’s not always so much as getting outside help as it is about being involved in your teens lives.

1. Be involved in your children’s lives and be supportive.

2. Communicate with your teens and provide a support system: 1) Ask how each day was. 2) Find out what is going on if you notice something. Don’t allow your teen to shut you out. 3) Don’t be judgmental—it will add more stress.

3. Be a good role model. Be the person you want your children to be.

4. Spend family time together. Family is the best buffer against stress, drug abuse, giving in to peer-pressure, early sexual activity.

5. Offer praise and encouragement for all jobs well done. Don’t forget to reward bravery and attempts at new things.

What can teens do to reduce their stress levels?

Teach teens to manage their stress is essential to their health and success. Discuss the following with them:

1. Don’t over-schedule. If you're having a hard time juggling all your activities or if you feel you can’t give your best to any of your activities you are probably over-scheduled. Cut out the least important or fun activities.

2. Break up big tasks into smaller chunks. This will make big tasks easier to tackle and it won’t stress you out as much. Also be sure to take action to complete the little tasks as they come.

3. Just be yourself. No one is perfect and no one is better than anyone else. Enjoy what comes to you naturally and focus on your strengths and values.

4. Rest. Getting enough sleep is extremely important to re-energize your body and get you ready for the next day. Exercise and Eat Healthy. Moderate exercise and healthy food is known to help people manage stress. Schedule in regular exercise and choose to reduce the amount of junk food you eat.

5. Be positive. Your outlook, attitude, and thoughts influence the way you see things. Is your cup half full or half empty? A healthy dose of optimism can help you make the best of stressful circumstances. Even if you're out of practice, or tend to be a bit of a pessimist, everyone can learn to think more optimistically and reap the benefits.

6. Have a support system (parents, friends) you can ask for help: With caring people around you, you won’t feel alone. Talking to people often feels like we have removed a burden from our shoulders.

7. Believe in yourself: You will succeed if you know that you can keep working toward your goals.

Interested in hearing about more teen stress reduction techniques? Contact Teen Life Coach and Mentor, Ivana Pejakovic, and speak to her about helping your teen manage stress.