Young girls get bombarded with media messages that can make it hard for them to feel good about their appearance.
Here are some practical ways to help your daughter develop healthy self-esteem about her appearance.
Managing Media Messages
- Establish limits. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends limiting TV time to two hours a day or less. Be selective about the shows your family watches, instead of leaving the TV on all the time. You’ll reduce some of the media influences on your kids and free up time for more productive activities.
- Discuss media portrayals of women. Watch TV with your kids. Talk about whether your favourite actress represents a realistic image of female beauty. Compare celebrities who look natural with those who’ve had radical cosmetic surgery.
- Present diverse images of beauty. Not all beautiful women are thin and blonde. Rent a batch of foreign movies to show your kids different perspectives from other cultures. Check out paintings online by artists like Reubens and Courbet, who preferred full figure models.
- Encourage your daughter’s interest in a wide range of subjects. Help your daughter supplement her interests in fashion and beauty with additional academic and cultural activities. Music lessons or foreign language classes will enrich her life and let her feel more accomplished.
- Avoid sexy apparel for young children. Steer clear of racy clothing being marketed for children and pre-teens. Let your daughter enjoy her youth free from prying eyes.
- Enforce dress codes for teens. It’s natural for teens to want to dress like their peers, but parents can still provide guidelines on what’s acceptable. Keep your discussions respectful while clarifying the difference between positive and negative attention.
- Shop for clothes that flatter your daughter’s best features. Applaud your daughter’s efforts to find her own personal style. Help her select outfits that work with her body type.
- Talk with your daughter about buying her first bra. The first bra is a milestone in every girl’s life. If she’s uncomfortable mentioning it, be ready to bring the subject up yourself whenever her body begins to develop. Your openness can help her adjust to her changing body.
- Support your daughter in maintaining a healthy weight. Approach any weight issues with sensitivity. Let your daughter know that her health and well being is your top priority. Volunteer to join her if she wants to join a gym.
- Compliment her inner qualities. Girls can feel pressured to value themselves based mainly on their appearance. Help her find more balance by focusing on her internal strengths, from being a good friend to mastering algebra.
- Monitor her participation in sports. Sports are often a constructive outlet but play it safe. Ensure coaches stress positive messages. Your daughter needs to enjoy herself without any excessive demands.
- Demonstrate a positive attitude towards all women. Your efforts will be more effective and credible if you have a respectful outlook concerning women in general. Try to avoid making disparaging remarks about family members or celebrities. Even if your comment seems trivial, teens and pre-teens can be very sensitive to the attitudes of their parents.
- Seek professional help. Most girls learn to accept their maturing bodies, but serious issues may require professional counselling. If your daughter shows signs of an eating disorder, consult your family physician or a counsellor who specialises in working with children and adolescents. Help is available.
With your guidance and support, your daughter can develop healthy self-esteem and learn to love the way she looks. Keep the lines of communication open and focus on her inner beauty.