Helping girls avoid eating disorders

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Helping girls avoid eating disorders

Teaching about anorexia and bulimia can actually be harmful to girls, because once they learn the details of what anorexia and bulimia actually are, they’re more likely to engage in those behaviors than girls who were never exposed to that information. So what is it that a mother should do? What is helpful to girls is teaching them to have a healthy body image – what this means is just to help them feel strong in their bodies, feel good in their bodies, to enjoy the taste of food. And also, you can help them enjoy all the areas of life that have nothing to do with how they look but have to do with who they are, what they think, what they do and what they can make. In addition, you can let your daughter know that she doesn’t need to buy into images that have an ultra thin ideal.

Watch SuEllen Hamkins, MD's video on Helping girls avoid eating disorders...


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SuEllen Hamkins, MD

Psychiatrist & Author

SuEllen Hamkins, MD, is a psychiatrist, author and founding member of the Mother-Daughter Project, a community of women and girls that developed powerful, practical ways to help mothers and daughters stay connected and thrive through adolescence. Co-author of The Mother-Daughter Project: How Mothers and Daughters Can Band Together, Beat the Odds and Thrive Through Adolescence, Dr. Hamkins has given numerous presentations for parents and psychotherapists around the world, focusing on mothers, daughters, their relationships and the kinds of communities that nurture them.  As the psychiatrist for the Smith College Counseling Service from 1992-2004, SuEllen offered consultation to over a thousand women ages 16 to 23 to help them resist and overcome problems such as anorexia, bulimia, depression, anxiety, trauma, assault, and self-injury.  In addition to her work on behalf of mothers and daughters, as the Assistant Director for Psychiatry at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, she has been instrumental in developing strengths-based, narrative approaches to psychotherapy and psychiatric practice, helping people cultivate their values and strengths in the face of serious difficulties.  SuEllen is the mother of two daughters, now 17 and 22, and raising them has been the most thrilling and rewarding work of her life. She lives with her husband and younger daughter in western Massachusetts, where they love to swim outdoors, cross country ski, shoe snow, dance, cook and lounge around in the living room, reading. 

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