We’ve spent all kinds of energy worrying about girls and body image. Trends like ‘spornosexuals’ in the media (athletes and other celebrities with their shirts off showing off their abs) remind us not to neglect boys that I wrote about in a previous post (The Spornosexual: Should Beckham Keep His Shirt On?). There are always unrealistic pressures on children as they grow up. Not everyone can be 6’2” and have six-pack abs. Parents, teachers and caretakers can help kids focus on strengths and not lament genetics and fashion trends, but that's no easy task.
News stories about any kind of trend make great teaching moments for boys and girls—particularly those who are tweens and teens who are in the process of figuring out who they are. The spornosexual article by Mark Simpson offers us several different potential topics: selfies, celebrity behavior, body image, gender roles and differences (not body parts, but how people respond to men and women doing the same thing), Instagram and privacy, to just name a few.
Start a conversation. When we're worried about something having to do with our kids, we often lose the art of conversation. Good intentions quickly morph into a lecture. As a reminder, a conversation is a form of communication where both sides talk and both sides listen. If parents start with their conclusions about how awful something is, the conversation just became a lecture and your tween or teen is no longer listening. If you try and it's not going well, try it again while doing something together, such as shooting hoops, playing pool or catch, cooking, gardening, etc. It is relaxing and consuming, which lessens knee jerk defensive reactions for both of you.
Photo credits: Photl.com; Beckham: People.com by Stefano Rellandini /Reuters/Landov