She begins to complain about her jeans being too tight, she always keeps an eye on the scales, drastically cuts down on pasta and condiments: in a word, she gets it into her head that she wants to lose weight. And there the fears of us mothers begin: won't she be taking it too seriously?
“Having reached pre-adolescence, all the girls begin to look at themselves with a critical eye in the mirror, to confront themselves with their friends, ready to grasp every defect on their body” says the psychologist. “During middle school, in particular, the body changes at a rapid pace and a conflict is easily established between feeling still a child and finding a body that is assuming the proportions of a girl. It is the age in which the desire to feel pleasant, welcomed by others increases. And above all 'on the other', given that in this period the first infatuations begin. Everything is normal (have we perhaps forgotten the hours we spent in the mirror analyzing the strengths and weaknesses in the smallest details?) And yes there is nothing wrong with that, but we parents have the task of ensuring that such an attitude remain within the limits of the physiological.
Here's how to behave.Read also: How to manage pre-adolescence: here are the tips for parents
Faced with a daughter who counts the fusilli and stays away from the oil jug, the temptation to 'come on, eat, this is wrong, you are as beautiful as you are' is great, but we have to resist. "With the pistolotto the opposite effect is obtained, because the girl feels she is not understood (from the series: 'every roach is beautiful ...') So she doesn't believe what we say and she doesn't feel believed: this creates an even greater distance. And our sermon is getting nowhere, ”says Schiralli.
Don't get angry at the table
Especially at the table, we don't venture into sterile arms of arms. The moment of the meal must be lived with the greatest possible serenity: we don't give her the feeling of having our eyes on her, we don't get angry if she doesn't eat a certain food, we don't insist that everything we put on her plate is finished, we avoid long faces. The risk is that, in order to avoid such tension, the girl goes to eat in another room. And we would completely lose control of the situation, as well as create a climate of hostility.
Don't medicalize at all costs
Unless she is objectively obese, let's not give in to the temptation to take her to the dietician, not even if she asks us. "Complying with a request that has no basis does nothing but amplify her belief that she is really in need of a diet," observes the psychologist. "Let's take time with a 'Wait, let's see how it goes': if on the one hand she might be irritated by not being answered, on the other she feels relieved because the 'office' parent has decided that, for a few extra pounds, there is a need to go to the specialist or to follow strict diets ".
Reflect your concern
As with all areas of education, the first rule of effective communication is mirroring. “Even if we think he is perfectly fine and does not need to lose even a pound, we show that we understand his concern, his fear of not being liked” advises Rosanna Schiralli. “Even better if we add examples of when we were his age, because we create empathy and show that we are able to put ourselves in his shoes.
Let's look for possible solutions together
Once we get on his wavelength and gain his trust, let's look for a strategy together. “We can agree for example that for a while we try to all eat a little lighter, we accept that it reduces the portions a bit - provided that, however do not give up on feeding completely - let's go shopping together, let's cook together, but always with lightness and complicity, creating an atmosphere of sharing. The message that passes in this way is that the mother is going to her field but without alarms, ”says the psychologist.
We value her desire for femininity
During adolescence, the desire to highlight one's femininity is manifested, to seduce but also to feel safe in one's body. And in this research, the main accomplice may once again be the mother. "We go out together every now and then to go and buy clothes for both of us and we take advantage of these opportunities to talk about femininity: no philosophical speeches, of course, but starting with a low-cut T-shirt or slightly tight jeans to express your fears of to show off or to feel observed but also the awareness of having other qualities, not only physical, on which to rely. " suggests Schiralli. “The daughter may catch on to the conversation and say her, just as she may not answer; in any case it draws inspiration from it to reflect and see the question from other points of view. And once again we tell her that hers are feelings that everyone, in a more or less veiled way, feels ".
Valuing other aspects
When we see other girls or a famous person on TV, we do not comment on his being more or less 'in the flesh'. Instead, we focus our attention on other aspects: the hairstyle, the make-up, the colors of her clothing, but above all her sympathy, her way of thinking, the sense of humor, the determination, the sweetness, which make her original and fascinating.
Also involve the father
Fathers play an important role in building the daughter's personality. "Whenever we can, we try to spend time together," says Schiralli. "Taking your daughter out for dinner, going shopping: these are occasions that make her feel great, because they make her feel like she's dating a man, even if it's her dad. And then between one speech and another the 'secrets' of the male point of view can come out, the memories of when the father was a boy and of what he thought of himself and of the female universe ".
If weight becomes an obsession, let's face it
However, if we realize that the weight problem is becoming an obsession for the girl, if in our opinion she is losing more kilos than necessary, if the period is missing, better speak out. Let's tell her we understand her fears, but moving forward like this she can get into a spiral of anxieties that aren't right. that there are eating disorders such as anorexia that can become dangerous. We establish the foods that absolutely must not be missing during the day and the 'junk' that you can easily do without. Without getting angry, but with firmness and calmness.
And if it continues, better consult an expert
If we notice some of these behaviors:
- try to skip meals, perhaps making the excuse of having eaten out
- says she feels bloated and full (and we know she has hardly eaten anything before)
- try to eat in the room or otherwise out of parental control
- he chops the food into small pieces that he eats slowly
- drinks in an exaggerated way at the table to 'deceive' the sense of satiety
- fills large plates for the other diners and puts very little food on his plate, as if to want to fill himself from the mouth of others
- and, above all, he throws his food secretly or induces vomiting
it is best to talk to an experienced psychologist. "Done in time, even with just a few sessions it is possible to reverse the course and correct the girl's relationship with food" concludes the psychologist.
- get back in shape
- 6-14 children years