Helping your daughter have a healthy body image

SuEllen Hamkins, MD Psychiatrist & Author, shares advice for parents on the best methods for helping to instill a healthy body image in your daughter
6 Ways to Help Your Daughter With Her Body Image
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Helping your daughter have a healthy body image

So there’s six things that you can do to help your daughter have a healthy body image. First of all, help her feel good in her body. Do things that feel good like foot massages or soaking in a hot tub – that way she gets to experience her body from the inside, how it feels and not just how it looks. Secondly, be active with her so she can feel strong in her body. That way she can know what her body can do. Third, eat healthy, delicious food with her and really enjoy what you’re eating. Really taste the food when you eat with her. If you fill your refrigerator and pantry with healthy food, then you can feel comfortable with what she’s eating. Fourth, tell her she’s beautiful. Never criticize your body or her body or other women’s body. There’s lots of body types and they’re each beautiful in their own way. Fifth, create your own images of beautiful women with her. Ask her to make a collage of a beautiful goddess or a sand sculpture on a beach. This way she understands that she can have the authority to make choices about what she thinks is beautiful and what she doesn’t. Finally, teach her to have a critical eye on the images that are coming past her. Not all the images of women that she’s seeing are a good fit for her and she doesn’t need to try to live up to them.

SuEllen Hamkins, MD Psychiatrist & Author, shares advice for parents on the best methods for helping to instill a healthy body image in your daughter


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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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