For all the Moms out there with daughters this blog is for you- regardless of the age of your daughter, this information can be quite helpful. My favorite clients to work with both in the school and in private practice are adolescent girls. These girls experience a phenomenon to what I refer to as the “emotional rollercoaster ride.” It is filled with obstacles that could potentially knock them off their track. Often times girls struggle with the feelings of insecurity, inadequacy, uncertainty, fear and sometimes loneliness. Mixed within these emotions are wonderful feelings such as pure happiness, excitement, joy, and passion for new loves and interests.
In order to successfully navigate through this “ride” your daughter needs a healthy self-esteem, something I consider to be the root of all positive growth. In my professional experience, the greater the self-esteem the more positive the body image, which I also consider to be a fundamental necessity for positive and healthy development.
Girls are exposed to thousands of teen celebrities, fashion icons, beauty products, and diet commercials that enforce the notion that their body shape, size, and fashion sense determine success. Magazines are notorious for enabling the fast weight loss diet. You see it yourselves moms. If you pick up any popular magazine you will be bombarded with weight loss fads, etc. In addition to this, our society has made it a woman’s/girl’s mission to often judge each other solely on their looks and the size of their bodies. During their tweens and teens girls become more aware of all of these external influences and compare themselves to other girls that are “more pretty, more popular, etc.” and are challenged to figure out how to “fit in.”
To make things even harder, tweens’ and teens’ bodies are rapidly growing and changing and they are becoming more self-conscious and aware of every imperfection. All of this greatly affects how your daughter will feel about herself and her body as she grows into a teen or into an emerging adult. High self-esteem and positive body image will help your daughter establish resiliency as well as the courage to be her own person, which will help her establish better coping skills to battle the “emotional rollercoaster.” The great news is that you have more influence than you think. With your support, nothing is impossible!
1. The best tip to help your daughters is to begin with yourself. Have confidence in yourself and be secure with who you are. Avoid negative comments about your weight or appearance and try to promote balances between healthy eating and exercising. Show your daughter that you can enjoy sweets in moderation and not feel guilty!
2. Help your daughters to identify with the healthy women in their lives and the many characteristics, besides beauty, that make these women attractive and amazing! By having conversations about healthy “real” role models in your daughter’s life she may be able to relate or connect with this person.
3. Try to limit the comments you make about other women’s appearance in a negative or positive way. The less you comment on other women’s appearances, the less likely your daughter will automatically judge other girls based on appearance.
4. Compliment your daughter and encourage her to follow healthy habits. Never make critical remarks about her body. They will be hard enough on themselves and really just need you to be their “biggest cheerleader.” Above all, remind your daughter that she is beautiful, talented and perfect just the way she is. Encourage your daughter to pursue interests and new fun things and praise your daughter for her courage to try new things as well as celebrate all of her accomplishments!
5. Have a positive attitude whenever something goes wrong and help your daughter learn that it is OK to make mistakes. Learning through our mistakes is how we grow and become amazing individuals!
6. Try to help your daughter focus on what is unique about herself and to not beat herself up over her weaknesses, or challenges (healthier description). It is hard for tweens and teens to not compare themselves to others, but try and remind your daughter to accept herself.
7. Talk to your daughter about the media and explain to her all of the tricks that are used to improve the appearance of women. A great example of this is the Dove “Evolution” Campaign. Show your daughter this short clips and then have a discussion about it!
8. Create a healthy and balanced life style for the whole family. If all members are eating healthy meals and exercising regularly, it will feel more natural and normal to your daughter. Always remember to be able to laugh with your daughter and take one day at a time; it helps your daughter to get through tough times without taking them too seriously.
I hope these tips help you as you journey through adolescence with your daughter. Feel free to contact me if you have any follow-up questions!
Allison Johnson, Ph.D., LAC
School Counselor/Private Therapist
The views and opinions expressed on this blog are purely the blog contributor’s. Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer or provider. Writers may have conflicts of interest, and their opinions are their own.