Teach your child to understand to identify his feelings, and understand that even those that are unpleasant or painful are legitimate. Read More
Not all people with anorexia nervosa have low self-esteem, and for those who do, it is not known whether low self esteem preceded AN, or whether AN caused the low self esteem. Furthermore, it is likely that low esteem is the product of the semi-starvation that accompanies AN. In the Minnesota Starvation Study, the subjects were psychologically healthy before they were semi-starved. Once they lost a signficiant amount of weight, however, they became anxious, depressed, and suffered from low self esteem. These symptoms lifted when the subjects in the experiment became renourished. Similarly, most people with AN revert to their old selves once they are renourished.
There is no evidence that teaching children to understand or identify feelings will either prevent or successfully treat anorexia nervosa. Nancy, do you have objective evidence for your assertions in this article?
I have taught kids for a number of years and seen self-esteem pinned to all sorts of things like clothes, who has the latest gadget, who likes them... all these external and superficial things that children have little control over - including to a large degree what they look like. It made me worry that kids didn't know what to base their sense of worth on. I started using this program called Who Is NOBODY? (www.whoisnobody.com) that got kids to figure out what they are interested in and then make a difference - for example, if you love animals and love to paint the kids would make a poster to collect blankets to donate to an animal shelter... I found it an effective way to get kids focused on their identity by taking action - something they have control over, rather than hoping things out of their control fall into place - like that so-and-so is nice to them that day! I love how you say to get kids to focus on excellence vs. perfection and I saw first hand how it changed the whole dynamics of my classroom! Great article Nancy Matsumoto! Thanks, Kelly
Thanks for your comment, Kelly, and for the link. Who is Nobody looks like a great program.
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Nancy Matsumoto is a freelance journalist who has written numerous stories on health, eating disorders, and body image.
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