Another great article to help our young ladies get ahead of the game and overcome social pressures. The advice is awesome and along with great parenting will help get the job done.
5 Ways To Help Our Daughters Develop a Positive Body Image
Parents should focus on holistic praise and building self-esteem.
By Barbara Greenberg, Contributor | May 31, 2017, at 6:00 a.m.
It’s a sad state of affairs, but by the time most of our daughters reach the age of 18, they describe disliking their bodies.
More specifically, they describe feeling fat, when in fact, fat is not really a feeling. Herein lies the problem – body weight, body image and self-esteem become one, each seemingly indistinguishable from the next, in influencing how most of our daughters feel about themselves.
In addition, girls are going through puberty earlier, experiencing changes to their bodies sooner as a result. Yes, some of our daughters are comfortable with their developing and developed bodies, but sadly most are not.
The good news is that there are many ways parents can help daughters develop a more positive body image. This is clearly the right time of year to talk about this, too, as the weather warms and bathing suit season gets underway. Here’s what you can do and how to have a dialogue with your tweens and adolescents:
Pay attention to how you talk about your own body. Are you calling yourself fat? Are you constantly looking in the mirror and complaining about how you need to either lose five pounds or that your clothes are making you look fat? Bear in mind that your daughters are listening to you and learning from you. You are their most powerful role model. If you routinely refer to yourself as fat, your daughters will likely follow suit in how they talk about and view themselves. Observational learning is, after all, the most powerful form of learning.
Conversely, if you talk about feeling good about your body, your daughter is significantly more likely to think positively about her body. Please keep this in mind as you speak out loud about your body.
Talk about optimizing the function of the body, rather than fixating on appearance. Talk with your daughters about physical strength and the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle, rather than just striving to be thin. With a strong and healthy body, a person can exercise, play sports, dance and have the energy to enjoy life. While being undernourished and emaciated can lead to illness and mental health issues. Teach your daughters about what can go awry if they focus only on what their bodies look like.
Explain to your daughters that beautiful bodies come in all shapes and sizes. Many girls and women who seek to maintain an ulta-thin appearance reflective of models on magazine covers put themselves at risk of developing eating disorders as well as depression.
Focus on your daughter’s skills, talents and interests. A young woman who is enjoying life and getting praised for skills that have little or nothing to do with maintaining her body weight will be less susceptible to a mood dip related to, say, a 2-pound weight change. Trust me on this one. I have seen many young women whose healthy self-esteem translates into a healthy body image.
Don’t comment on the size or shape of your daughters’ body parts. This will lead to nothing but self-consciousness and fluctuating self-esteem. Be holistic in your focus and praise.
The bottom line is that if we want our daughters to feel good about their bodies, we need to be healthy role models and focus not only on the strength and health of the body, but also on our daughters’ unique traits. Doing so can make all the difference in how they see themselves.
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