by Courtney Drake-McDonough
The problem: My daughter is critical of her body. I’m worried this could lead her to develop body image issues or eating disorders. How do I handle this early to prevent it from getting worse?
The expert: Dr. Katie Godfrey, licensed marriage and family therapist at The Catalyst Center, Denver (catalystcenterllc.com).
The solution: Helping children create a healthy body image is important, and it can happen to males as well as females. Here are a few suggestions you can implement to help her appreciate her body.
- Talk to your children about all of the wonderful things her body is capable of. How amazing that her body can run, climb, jump, swim, balance, twirl, dance, sing, and play!
- Speak positively about your own body, no matter what its shape and size. Do not criticize your body or anyone else’s, even in jest.
- Focus mealtimes on healthy eating, not dieting. Resist the urge to label foods as “bad” or “unhealthy,” and don’t forbid them. They can be called “yummy” or “tasty” instead. Tasty food is fine, in moderation.
- Discuss unrealistic images in the media and how they are sometimes digitally altered.
- Make your child aware of the normal body changes that happen with puberty.
- Most importantly, make sure your child knows that you love her values, personality, and interests rather than putting focus on appearance.