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Detecting Body Issues in Teens

How many of us are unhappy with our bodies?

Unfortunately, a lot of us will answer this question with a yes. It’s no secret that many of us have agonized in front of a mirror or complained about our muffin tops, stretch marks, bat wings, and more. We often lament to our friends, family, and significant others about our disappointments when we look in the mirror or have to try on clothes. And they all know better than to mention swimsuit season is around the corner.

In fact, researchers estimate that 91 percent of women admit to having negative feelings about our bodies. We all have certain areas that we would love to see tightened or toned which often finds us boarding an unending merry-go-round of dieting and exercising. This unhappiness with our bodies doesn’t only affect us, it can filter down to our children.

As mothers, we lead by example and in our own frustrations we might be inadvertently setting up our children for a lifelong struggle with unhealthy body image issues. Our daughters, and even our sons, are witnessing our attitudes and behaviors when it comes dealing with body image issues. As we avoid mirrors or begin a pity party when it comes to eating a second helping at dinner, our kids are picking up on our cues.

This can develop extreme attitudes and behaviors towards food and weight. If we are aware of this problem, we can take measures to keep our menacing thoughts and comments to ourselves. However, far too often our children are being exposed to negative and unhealthy body ideals online. Their love of social media only adds fuel to the fire when they rely on feedback from peers or others when it comes to deciding how they feel about themselves. This can lead to kids suffering from poor body images and low self esteem.

These problems are widespread in the U.S. and are on the upswing, affecting more and more of our children. Thankfully, with a little awareness we can help detect body image issues before they spiral into dangerous territory and threaten our child’s well being. For more information on detecting body image issues in our teens, please read the following infographic: 


Almost Grown Kids: Seriously in a Different Place

This is what I am used to.  A teen daughter doing her teen thing.  My daughter has added a job to her list of attributes along with getting ready for her first prom.  My youngest is about to turn 11 next month and turning into a middle school typical boy.  Farting is funny and annoying his sister is a full-time job.  Why am I even discussing this?  Well, I’m being bombarded with blogs showing Naturals having their first babies and dealing with new marriages.  Sigh…I’m just in a different place.

It’s kind of funny to see these women discuss how they will raise their babies and how life is for them.  I get it.  You have it all figured out.  What they fail to realize is that the baby will come with his or her own personality and since you don’t know what that is yet;  you don’t know what the hell you are really getting into.  These are PEOPLE you will be raising.  I’m looking forward to their future posts for laughs.  I was once like them…

Teenage Romance: How to Parent a Teenager in Love

Teen dating can come with a lot of pressure. We asked a psychologist at Children’s Hospital Colorado how parents can help teens and adolescents during the initial dating years.

What’s most important about teens and dating?

“Teens are unique and handle the pressures of dating differently than adults,” said Jeffrey Dolgan, PhD, Senior Psychologist at Children’s Hospital Colorado. “One thing is true for all teens, however: the importance of communication. As you watch your teen’s romance unfold, don’t wait until a jealous moment, a breakup or a precarious situation arises to talk about it.”

How can I start the conversation?

Dr. Dolgan suggests having regular conversations at a time when your teen is approachable – this makes it less awkward and less of a big deal. Movies are another great opportunity for bonding; use the latest hit movie to discuss how pop culture represents sex and love by pointing out the good and the bad.

How do I get my teenager to open up?

Trust is key. If your child views you as a trusted and available advisor, he or she will seek you out for relationship advice. Express empathy when something goes wrong and show that you understand how important the relationship is.

Can this strengthen my relationship with my child?

“Teens live right in the present moment, and you want to meet them there,” said Dr. Dolgan. “It’s natural for parents to worry about the future of your teen’s romantic relationship and also think about the long-term future of your relationship with him or her. But if you can meet your child in the moment, then that bodes well for your future.”

Can I help prevent a broken heart?

As adults, we all remember our first breakup and our first heartbreak. Remind your teen that breakups happen and you know what it feels like. This will make it easier for them to talk to you.

Also be aware that sometimes the emotional aftermath can lead to health concerns. If you see an increase in symptoms of depression or a lack of interest in normal activities, contact your family physician.

Learn more about psychology services at Children’s Colorado.

Let teenagers rock their room decor — within limits

One day they are 9-year-olds affixing Hannah Montana or Spider-Man posters to their walls.

Then they are teenagers.

He wants to paint his bedroom walls black. She demands a vampire-themed suite. Mom and Dad are bummed out and prepared neither to embrace nor indulge this evolving outlook.

Relax, say interior designers with experience negotiating parent/teen tensions over room decor.

Establishing independence is the very marrow of adolescence. And bedrooms are oases of autonomy. For most kids, it’s the only part of the house over which they — and nobody else — can claim sovereignty.

When it comes to children’s rooms, experts recommend giving kids some leeway. Work with — not against — them to change the space and make it feel like their own.

“I had a kid who wanted his bedroom black, and the mom was like, ‘What do I do?’ ” says Kristi Dinner, a Denver interior designer. “We compromised with a very dark chocolate brown with white trim and white built-ins. The mom was scared, but it ended up being beautiful.”

It’s just paint, Dinner adds. “There are a lot of things that would be a lot more permanent and cost a lot more money than paint.”

Another example:

East High students will step on sage advice

Teenagers often have a habit of gazing at their feet, so the refurbishing of East High School’s entrance will toss some education into the mix with paving stones that bear famous quotations.

In a few months, East’s 2,400 students will be able to walk, chew gum and learn at the same time — as long as they don’t put those wads of Wrigley’s under their desks.

The project isn’t cheap, but backers have raised $200,000 toward a goal of $250,000 to launch the privately funded renovation of the historic entry plaza. Construction is set to start June 1.

“This started out as just a way to sell bricks and raise money,” said Mary Beth Jenkins, co-chair of Project Angel Pride, the sponsoring organization. “But we realized we needed to be more ambitious, so we came up with the idea of the paving stones with quotations on them.”

The pavers that bear quotations are intended to help

Teenage daughters vex Dad

Having raised teenage girls, studied them and even having written a book about them, I still don’t know what they are for.

My suspicion is that teenage daughters are a father’s punishment for having once been a teenage boy. This doesn’t seem fair to me, but then again, my concept of the word “fair” may have been distorted by the way my daughters used it between the ages of 12 and 20 — what I call the “war years.” It seems that teenage girls have a vocabulary all their own.

The phrase “no fair” means “I don’t like it.” Most often it is heard in response to a very reasonable parental observation, such as, “No, you can’t go to a concert in the next state and spend the night in a hotel with people I don’t know and who are therefore most likely hardened criminals.”

“No fair!” the teenage girl cries — or, alternately, “that is so not fair!” In case you don’t get the message, the teenager might stomp her foot, sob out loud, slam and lock the door to her bedroom or send angry “tweets” so that all of her friends are updated on the news that her father is so not fair.

She might go further and explain why you are not fair, which can basically be boiled down to a list of your faults. You are “unreasonable,” meaning you’re asking reasonable questions, such as, “Where are you going to get the money to pay for this high-risk venture?” You “never listen,” which means you’ve repeatedly ignored her request to borrow money for what you’ve started thinking of as “The Road Trip To Doom That Will Happen Over My Dead Body.” You are “mean” to remind her that her grades aren’t what they should be — that’s “irrelevant,” meaning “something she doesn’t want to talk about.”

When she says, “Mom said I could go,” she is telling you that her mother said “ask your father.” When you remain resolutely “unfair,” she’ll point out that “all of her friends are going,” which simply means that in living rooms all over town, fathers are listening to this same ridiculous appeal. Fathers should sign up for Twitter so they can text to each other: “My daughter wants me