Fashion & Beauty

Help Your Daughter Build a Better Body Image

By Susie Michelle Cortright

According to a national health study of 2,400 girls, 40% of 9 and 10-year-old girls are trying to lose weight. Experts say it's no coincidence that a girl's academic performance sometimes begins to slide about the time she becomes more aware of her body.

Research has found that the most significant factors influencing a girl's body image are her mother's body image and attitudes about food and dieting. Amoreena Brewton, a mother with a background in sociology and counseling, says that one of the greatest dangers of a mother's poor body image is the negative effect on children. "If you hate your body, your child may learn to hate hers, as well," she says.

Numerous studies reinforce the principle that parental and peer messages influence a young girl's body image. The following will help your children develop and maintain a positive body image:

1. Model healthy attitudes towards food
If you count calories, your child might too. Make sure your children understand the importance of a healthy diet. Then demonstrate your commitment to healthy eating by planning and preparing nutritious family meals and snacks.

2. Demonstrate the benefits of exercise
Help your kids develop an interest in healthy recreational activities. Encourage them to develop an interest in outdoor games and sports. And be sure to prioritize exercise in your own schedule.

3. Focus on your children's inner qualities
Though it is important to compliment your daughter on her physical appearance, it is even more important to praise her emotional, intellectual and spiritual qualities. Affirm her character and inner qualities, and avoid placing too much emphasis on her face and figure.

Susie Michelle Cortright is the author of several books for women and founder of the award-winning, a website designed to help busy women find balance. Visit today and get Susie's *free* course-by-email "6 Days to Less Stress."

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