I’m here with my son at his drum lesson. And you know what I don’t see? Frowns. Not one kid has a frown. As I was walking in from the parking lot, there was one little girl, barely 4 feet tall, carrying her drumsticks in one hand and holding her father’s hand in the other. She was beaming. I mean just grinning ear to ear and skipping with personal satisfaction. Where does this joy come from?
What I love about this environment is that children are learning about their skills, getting encouragement, finding success, and discovering their own voice. And not one kid, from the 6 year old beginner to the 18 year old prodigy is judging themselves on their looks. This is a place where their talent and individuality are celebrated.
When we see children struggle with body image and eating disorders at our clinics, it’s because these essential parts of their development have gone missing. All too often the focus is on their ability to fit in, judge their value on their perceived attractiveness, and define their beauty or worth by how thin they are and how much they can deprive themselves.
Now, I’m not saying that music lessons are the cure all for eating disorders and body image dissatisfaction. After all, most of these issues are biologically driven. As we say in the field, genetics loads the gun and environment pulls the trigger. What we want to work on then is creating the right kind of environment that doesn’t pull the trigger on these vulnerable kids.
What helps is to focus all compliments on gifts and skills, personal development, achievements, social kindnesses, good deeds large and small, and anything else that creates a person we admire. Those are things that will make your kid beam with pride and joy, and that they can take away with them the rest of their lives.
But drum lessons couldn’t hurt.
By Andrew Walen, LCSW-C - Founder, Executive Director, Psychotherapist at The Body Image Therapy Center. If you would like to get in touch with Andrew please call 877-674-2843 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.