Be safe. have fun. stay fit.
Are you being bombarded by social media content devoted to "New Year's" diets and workouts? Many people I know are...which means if your tweens and teens are on social media they are likely being barraged by it too. It made me realize that now is a particularly good time to check in with kids about body image. Kids as young as 9, of all genders, can start to feel insecure about their bodies. And let's face it, being in a swim suit can bring these negative thoughts out in the best of us.
If we're lucky, our kids will come to us if they have concerns about their weight, appearance or puberty shifts that can seem to happen overnight. but more likely it's up to us to start this conversation. Here's a good script-starter:
“You know, I was looking at Instagram the other day, and I noticed how many posts this time of year talk about diets, exercise and appearance. Are you seeing them too? What do you think of them?”
Sharing this may be enough to start a conversation immediately, or it may not. Either way, by trying to address body image head-on with our tweens and teens, we let them know that we’re here to listen and support them in their whole health. Your child doesn’t need you to have all the answers. They need a listening ear so they know they’re not alone.
Whether or not that direct conversation works, here are some tips to use in your daily interactions to help promote a positive body image:
1. Focus on the whole person, and health.
Emphasize the importance of health and self-care. This can help them focus on overall well-being and positive self-image. Avoid commenting on their appearance, and instead focus on their unique qualities and strengths. Encourage them to think about their whole person, and of their body in a more positive or functional way.
2. Listen and validate their feelings.
It's essential to listen to your kids' feelings and validate their experiences. This can help build trust and open communication around all kinds of sensitive issues.
3. Be a positive body image role model.
Model acceptance of your own body to help your child accept theirs. Avoid "diet" language, and refrain from making negative comments about your body or others', or physical appearance ideals. Instead, focus on positive and functional aspects of your body.
4. Encourage positive self-talk.
Model positive self-talk in your own behavior. Sit down with your child and make a list of positive self-talk statements. This helps them understand what positive talk sounds like, and how it can be applied in different situations.
If you begin to notice warning signs such as constant self-criticism, changes in eating patterns or social withdrawal, address these concerns with care and support, and speak to your child's pediatrician. For a lengthier article on this topic, read this.
LifeCycle Swim School is proud to offer enhanced water safety services and swim lessons to the community to help keep everyone safe in, on and around water this summer. Read our press release for more details.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
LifeCycle Swim School, Montclair, NJ
201-320-0696 / firstname.lastname@example.org
LifeCycle Swim School Offers Robust Drowning Prevention Services for Summer
Safety-Focused LifeCycle Swim School Promotes National Water Safety Month
Montclair, NJ, May 1, 2023 - May is National Water Safety Month, and LifeCycle Swim School of Montclair, NJ is joining in the effort to raise awareness about the importance of water safety. As the weather warms up and people start to spend more time in and around the water it’s crucial to understand how to stay safe.
LifeCycle Swim School provides families in and around Montclair with high-quality water safety education and swim lessons. We’re making extra efforts this summer because, due to the pandemic, we’ve seen that many children are behind on their swimming skills.
“We’re committed to ensuring that everyone in our community understands the importance of water safety,“ said Jennifer May, Owner of LifeCycle Swim School. “By providing education, swim lessons and resources, we hope to prevent drownings and other water-related accidents.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) drowning is the leading cause of unintentional death for children ages 1-4, and the number two cause of death for children ages 5-14. However, drowning can happen to anyone, regardless of age or swimming ability. No one is “water safe.”
To promote water safety, we’re offering a variety of services and events:
In addition to these offerings, we’re partnering with local businesses to provide two water safety workshops. For families with new children, we’re offering an infant-focused workshop at Montclair Baby on June 3 at 1:00 pm. For families with older toddlers, we’re conducting a workshop at Kidville of Montclair on June 3 at 10:00 am.
We’re reminding residents to take steps to stay safe in, on, and around water this summer:
National Water Safety Month is an annual awareness campaign coordinated by the Pool and Hot Tub Alliance, the American Red Cross, the National Recreation and Park Association and the World Waterpark Association. The campaign aims to raise awareness about the importance of water safety and provide education and resources to prevent fatal drownings and other water-related accidents that can lead to permanent damage.
About LifeCycle Swim School
LifeCycle Swim School provides premium water safety education, survival swimming and swim skill instruction to Montclair and surrounding communities.
Jennifer May, Owner, LifeCycle Swim School
Tips to Help Keep Your Family Water Safe During Vacation
My first career was creative, challenging and included travel around the world. As a product director in the footwear business, I led teams to design and develop shoes for women and men, but mostly for kids. Young and single, I’d jet off to Paris and London in search of “inspirational” shoes to copy for the American market. This was my job! Back in our Boston office, and working with teams of designers, we’d transform the ideas into styles for our brand. Then we’d send the artwork to factories in Thailand or China, and I’d get to travel there too.
Every time someone asked, “What do you do?” my answer always solicited varying degrees of “How cool!” At parties everyone loves talking about shoes. Passions run high when people describe the type of shoes they love, the heels they hate, and that unicorn style they can never find. As a creative person, and someone who cares about the environment, I always felt lucky that I designed in a product category that people actually needed.
The work was fun, financially rewarding, and had room for promotion. I leveraged my advertising degree, and gained business strategy experience. The company I worked for was even progressive for working women and families – they had female executives, and on-site day care for those who needed it. But even in this best-case scenario, the complications of a working mom’s reality crept in. Once I had a child, my male boss at the time assumed I wouldn’t want to travel, and told me so. Even though I was the main earner in our family, and I wanted to stay, we parted ways. I held a few similar jobs over the next ten years. In hindsight, I can see that this was an extended, stalled career. Eventually I led product development in the baby division of an accessories company, creating a line of crib shoes. Those tiny, three-inch foot coverings that babies don’t actually need. Crib shoes are fun and cute. They’re also unnecessary, and essentially landfill fodder.
Meanwhile my personal life got complicated. I’d had unexpected twins, so was parenting, luckily with an engaged husband, three kids instead of the two we had planned. The job turned into a grind. Buried writing aspirations haunted me, and I pined to be my own boss. The twins were morphing from exhausting toddlers into demanding kids. Frazzled, we decided to abandon our urban lifestyle. We sold our brownstone, and moved to a New Jersey suburb, hoping a quiet, grassy home would calm life down.
Balancing career and family remained complicated, maybe even more so by being in a new town, with longer commutes. Our first summer, we were excited to join the town pool. To me, pools weren’t just loaded with water, they were filled with memories. As a kid, in Houston, Texas, I’d spend whole summer days at our neighborhood pool. To survive the heat and humidity I’d play endless rounds of Marco Polo, launch cannon balls off the high dive, and attempt to eat orange Creamsicles before they melted.
My sisters and I raced in swim meets. We started in the five and under age group, and every summer earned shiny ribbons that we pinned to our bedroom bulletin boards. I was good at racing, and joined a year-round team. At thirteen I qualified for a statewide meet in the 200-meter breaststroke. But as the sport got more demanding, and my height stuck at 5’ 3, I gave in to teenage laziness. I quit, and swimming became something “I used to do.”
Confronted with that concrete rectangle filled with water, I started swimming laps to relieve stress. Away from people, my phone, and as the water drowns out the sounds of children and even my own mind, I drift into something like meditation. My worries sink into the deep end, and although they don’t go away, they resurface bathed in perspective. Meanwhile the water soothed tantrums, cooled down tempers and transported us to a place of pure fun with our kids. Then I’m ready to enjoy the social experience of a community pool — chatting with neighbors and meeting new people.
Swimming helped me cope, but it wasn’t enough. In 2014, with the support of my husband, I left my job. It was hard to leave a well-paying job, and risk stunting further a 30-year career that I had at one time loved.
I wasn’t exactly modeling good habits for my kids when I was still in my pajamas as they got home from school. I needed a routine to get me out of the house, so I started teaching swimming at our local YMCA. I enjoyed resurrecting a lost skill, and it kept me fit. I decided to get certified so I could be a better instructor. My students progressed, and I became one of the most requested teachers. Meanwhile, because of my business background I was able to see the inadequacies of where I was working, and also that the community was underserved.
The next summer I launched LifeCycle Swimming. I rented an outdoor pool, created a website where clients could book lessons on-line. For four summers I’ve taught lessons back-to-back. Now I’m managing the growth of a thriving swim business.
All I need now is a Creamsicle.