I’m a mother to three girls, so body image is something that comes up a lot in our house. I try to be open and honest with my daughters, especially when it comes to weight—check out what happened when my daughter, Reece, and I weighed ourselves—but let’s face it: I could be a body-image expert and my daughters would still think, “Oh, Mom; she doesn’t know anything.”
I’d be willing to guess that you probably feel the same way. With that in mind, here are six subtle ways to pass body confidence onto your daughter.
How to Help Your Daughter Develop a Healthy Body Image
Set a good example. Kids probably learn more from what they’ve “caught” than what they’re “taught”, meaning they probably see how you handle your relationship with your body more often than they hear your body-confidence advice So, take care of yourself. Teach your daughters how to celebrate who they are—even the things they may want to change—by living that way yourself.
Encourage participation in sports. This doesn’t mean your daughter has to be the captain of a team or join a team at all. Just introduce her to things she may enjoy doing and that will get her up and moving a few times a week. If she can begin to identify her body as a tool—something she can jump, swim, and pedal with—then she’ll begin associating it with enjoyable experiences and empowerment rather than flaws.
Open the lines of communication. I think it’s important to have a dialogue from time to time in your home about body image and even body issues. You don’t want to act like it’s not something to contend with because it’s something many women end up navigating their whole lives. So let your daughter know you’re always ready and willing to talk.
Support her relationships. The more connection, support, and love your daughter feels, the less likely she’ll be to focus solely on her appearance. Life is a full and rich experience, and when she can share that with others she won’t feel quite as much of a need to be defined by her body. Life becomes more about her experiences and exchanges with others rather than worries about herself.
Introduce her to a female role model. At times, a stranger may be able to impact your child more than you can. Let your daughter hang around an intelligent, accomplished, and confident older woman and she will intuitively grasp that there are many ways she can express herself other than through her physical self.
Help her help others. Serving others is not only a nice thing to do, but it will be a gift to your daughter as well. It helps put things into perspective. For instance, feeding the homeless may make worries over her hip and bust size not seem quite as important.
These are just a few of my tips. If you give them a shot and don’t feel like you’re getting through, remember: The best thing any of us can do to help our daughters is to love them and support them. If you’re doing that, then you’re doing all right.
This article is not intended to substitute for informed medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or condition. Always check with your doctor before changing your diet, altering your sleep habits, taking supplements, or starting a new fitness routine.