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As parents of a bright, beautiful daughter, you want your child to know that she is amazing both inside and out. Unfortunately, some of the loudest voices in her life (the media and her peers, for example) might be delivering the opposite message. Since you don’t control these voices, nurturing a healthy body image in your child isn’t always easy. However, there are some things you can do to help your daughter filter out the noise and develop her own sense of self.

Five Ways to Help Girls Grow a Positive Self Image

  1. Talk About the Media: There’s no way to avoid the perfectly Photoshopped images plastering billboards, television advertisements, and magazine racks. However, you can help you daughter understand why these images are often an unrealistic and unhealthy standard. Be aware of what types of messages your daughter is receiving by being aware of what she is reading, watching, and listening to. Encourage her to question whether the messages she hears are really ones she should take to heart.
  2. Stay Positive: When talking with your daughter about weight, be cautious about using words with negative connotations. Describing people as “fat” and “thin” can encourage her to focus more on the way she looks. Instead, focus on the importance of a healthy lifestyle.
  3. Praise Who She Is: Girls of all ages are often judged by their appearance. Even positive comments on the way your daughter looks can reinforce this emphasis on image. While it’s certainly fine (encouraged, even) to tell your daughter she’s beautiful, make sure she’s hearing that she is smart, brave, assertive, and a good friend just as often.
  4. Think About Your Own Self-Image: For many girls, the biggest influence on body perception is their mother. What kind of example are you setting for your daughter? Constantly picking at your own appearance or commenting on the women around you shows your daughter that appearance is something that should be foremost in her mind. Make an effort to model kindness and positivity towards your body. Your daughter will notice your body positivity, and you will likely feel a bit happier too.
  5. Encourage a Healthy Lifestyle: Show your daughter how to live a lifestyle that will leave her feeling healthy and happy. If she sees you exercising obsessively or living a sedentary lifestyle, she’ll be more likely to model those extremes as well. The same goes for nutrition: teach her why crash diets are not a good way to achieve a healthy weight. Help her find balance and a positive self-image will follow.

Taking the First Steps

If your daughter is expressing negativity about herself or engaging in unhealthy behaviors in an effort to achieve a “perfect” body, you might not know how to help her. As parents, you’ll always be the first and most important voices she hears. However, it can also be worthwhile to take advantage of outside help. Chiropractic care can be a valuable resource in helping girls better understand their bodies and their health needs. Chiropractors focus on all aspects of their patients’ well-being, including lifestyle decisions like nutrition, exercise and sleep. A chiropractor can also help you find additional resources to help your daughter stay healthy in both body and spirit.

As overwhelming as it might feel to work against all of the outside forces that are competing for your daughter’s attention and shaping her view of the world and herself, parents can make a critical difference. With time and the right attitude, you can help your daughter have a healthy body image.

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