We are all different shapes, sizes, and colors, each of us special in our own way. Blossom and Bud by Frank J. Sileo, PhD was written to help children respect, accept and appreciate how their own and others’ bodies are beautiful and different in their own ways. It was also written to foster discussion in a safe and comfortable environment with the caregivers in their lives. Understanding individual differences and body diversity may help children build self-esteem, feel kindness toward themselves and others, practice healthy eating, have more realistic expectations of their appearance, and possess a healthy body image. In his Note to Adult Gardeners in Blossom and Bud, Dr. Sileo provides suggestions about nurturing a positive body image in children. Here’s an excerpt explaining body image and when to seek professional help. We’ll post a second excerpt with tips for fostering a healthy body image. What Is Body Image? Body image is how a person feels about and views their body, which contributes to their own self-image. Children can develop a positive or negative perception of their body. A child with a positive body image feels comfortable about their body. As a result, they display more confidence, take better care of their body, and have higher self-esteem. They tend to have more energy and engage in physical activities. A child with a negative body image tends to feel less satisfied with their body and may feel more anxious, self-conscious, and isolated from others. They may be more preoccupied with calories, weight, or food intake; unfairly compare themselves with others; have lower self-esteem; and engage in disordered eating. The way children see themselves and others may be based on standards set forth by others in their lives. It is difficult to ignore the images of the “ideal” body conveyed to our children by many forms of media. Peers can also be powerful influences on children’s perceptions of self. Parents and other adults in their lives may also be sending messages directly or indirectly about how children’s bodies should look and how they should feel about their bodies. There is a tendency in our culture to favor bodies that are thin, muscular, or “perfect.” Of course, a “perfect” body does not exist, and focusing on perfection can lead to frustration, disappointment, and other mental health issues. As parents and caregivers, we want to help encourage children to develop healthy mindsets and realistic expectations about their bodies, and to learn how to take care of their bodies through eating healthy and getting regular exercise. When Body Image Becomes a Growing Problem Being concerned about body image and at times being self-conscious about one’s appearance is a typical part of growing up. However, if you should notice your child becoming depressed being bullied struggling with their self-esteem skipping meals engaging in severe dieting withdrawing from others making repeated, negative statements about themselves like “I hate my body,” or “I’m ugly,” or engaging in self-harm behavior it is best to seek consultation withRead More
About Frank Sileo, PhD
Frank J. Sileo, PhD, is a New Jersey licensed psychologist and the founder and executive director of the Center for Psychological Enhancement in Ridgewood, New Jersey. He received his doctorate from Fordham University in New York City.
In his practice, Dr. Sileo works with children, adolescents, adults, and families. Since 2010, he has been consistently recognized as one of New Jersey’s top kids’ doctors.
He has authored several children’s books including: A World of Pausabilities: An Exercise in Mindfulness, Did You Hear?: A Story About Gossip, Bug Bites and Campfires: A Story for Kids About Homesickness, and Sally Sore Loser: A Story About Winning and Losing, which is the Gold Medal recipient of the prestigious Mom’s Choice Award.
A pause is being in the moment and giving yourself a break. There's no wrong way to pause, so it's hard to make a mistake. Sometimes we all need a break. A pause. A chance to stop and breathe. A pausability is a break you take just for you. Opportunities for pausabilities are all around. Hear author, Frank J. Sileo, Phd, read his story, A World of Pausabilities: An Excercise in Mindfulness, aloud and explore mindfulness with your child.Read More
Families all over the world are experiencing increased stress and anxiety. As we all practice social distancing, our daily routines have been disrupted. While this is stressful, it also provides an opportunity to slow down, to pause, and learn new coping strategies. The post below explores the power of the "pause" and provides tips for helping your child learn about mindfulness. Now is a great time to practice mindfulness together. For children and teenagers, learning how to take a pause requires practice and support from adults, just like learning to play an instrument or ride a bicycle. We want to encourage them to pause so they can catch their breath; be in the moment; experience what they are thinking, feeling, and doing; and regulate their emotions and behavior. Read on for some helpful tips for teaching mindfulness to children and teens. Be Patient Children—especially young children—may initially become frustrated when learning to take a pause. Your patience with them will help them feel more confident about relying on taking a pause when things get difficult. Be aware that children may give up easily or make negative statements like “This is boring!” “Why do I have to do this?” or “I feel silly!” If your child says such things, don’t dismiss her. Acknowledge her feelings and tell her that taking pauses might seem strange in the beginning. Focus on the effort made by your child and the positive results that come from engaging in mindful pausing. The more your child practices taking pauses, the more comfort and success she will experience. Have her choose a pause that she enjoys or one that has worked for her before. Your attitude about taking a pause is key to her success, as well. Encourage her to practice, and practice together. After all, pauses are good for everyone! Acknowledge Differences Some children and teens may have an easier time pausing than others. The pauses you use should be based on your child’s age and developmental level. Children with certain clinical issues such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or problems with impulse control, emotional regulation, executive functioning, depression, or anxiety may have more difficulty slowing down to pause, even while they have a greater need for taking pauses in their daily lives. Learning to successfully pause and be mindful may greatly impact a child or teen’s overall emotional and behavioral functioning. Know When to Pause Anytime is a good time to take a pause! Initially, however, it’s a good idea to introduce pauses when your child is calm. He will be much more focused and compliant, and more likely to be successful. If you try to teach a pause when your child is already upset, he may not be able to properly process what you are trying to teach him. Be aware of the emotional and behavioral triggers in your child. For example, if your child struggles with homework, remind him ahead of time about taking a pause or two. If he starts to getRead More