Our Daughter’s Body Image and Ourselves

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Parents, and especially Moms, I want to talk about the tough subject of your daughter’s body image, health and well being. As puberty becomes a driving force in your daughter’s life, her self-image and esteem are sure to become a part of her awareness.

This time in her life is potentially the most sensitive and influential experience of her body image memories. She is adjusting to a new physical frame, emotions that go with it, the opposite sex, and the external forces of peer pressure and/or attention. It sounds like the making of a time bomb but it doesn’t have to be that way.

I’ve been a guide and witness to this process for over twenty-five years, nurturing teenage girls becoming young women. I’ve noticed a lot about what works and what doesn’t, between parents and girls. By the time the tween-years arrive, most parents imagine their words are falling on deaf ears. This is only half true. Consider what your support role may be while navigating your comments, suggestions and guidance carefully. Yes, lecturing about diets and exercise is heard as ‘blah,’ focusing on who is doing better in this area is devastating; shaming, threatening or bribing is horrific and talking about it directly can be taboo depending on the quality of your relationship and connection to your daughter.  Assume your daughter is well aware of her body image almost all of the time. In fact, she may even be obsessed with it. This is normal to a degree.

If you know for a fact she is cutting her calories drastically, not eating well, over-exercising, binging, cutting or abusing herself, look for a licensed professional immediately to get your daughter the level of care required.  Please don’t wait for these situations to resolve themselves.

If you feel your daughter is mirroring peer behavior there is time and room for improvement. In this case, your best ally is yourself. Your actions, the way you take care of yourself, the way you talk about your own body and the way you see yourself, has the biggest impact on your daughter’s self-image.  She is mirroring what she sees in the world and most of all, mirroring her parents and the primary female role model in her home. What you buy at the grocery store, what you stop for after school for a snack, what you order at Starbucks, all matters to her learning eyes. Be aware of the daily choices you are making on behalf of your family. If you want to launch into a lecture, stop yourself, and reroute your conversation.  Remember, this is about you modeling prednisone online healthy behavior repeatedly.  Make your focus about your fitness program and about feeling good.  Invite her to walk, hike, rock climb, dance or Zumba with you. It’s about enjoying being in her company, not about her waistline.

Remember that what you focus on grows. Take inventory of what you focus on about your daughter’s self-image. Pick one thing at a time to focus on. Be willing to have open, positive and healthy dialogue about her feelings.  Listen to what she is saying and make sure she feels understood by you.  Without fixing or judging, practice being an active listener. The more she feels heard, the more she will begin to share her deeper feelings, insecurities and possible solutions she would like to try.  Always offer warm hugs after a great chat.

Action Items:

1. Be for something verses against something   (e.g., Focus on long-term family lifestyle changes vs. being against a bad habit)

2. Create a family goal to feel better and eat better

3. Make activity plans for the family before splitting up on weekends  (e.g., Plan Sunday bike rides before a movie)

4. Buy produce from farmer’s markets instead of pre-packaged or processed foods

5. Cook meals together as a family, make healthy fruit desserts without sugar

6. Eliminate trigger words  (e.g., Stop using the words diet or dieting in your vocabulary)

7. Share health goals you have for yourself with your daughter

8. Use positive dialogue, and acknowledge the healthy actions she takes


With love & glow,

Desiree Phillips



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