4 Parenting Tips for Raising a Body Positive Daughter

You aren’t born insecure or with a poor body image; it’s all a learned behavior.
Whether it’s because you’ve watched your mother yo-yo diet and talk negatively about her body, whether it’s because your father made comments about how women’s bodies looked, or if it’s because your brain was saturated with trashy TV that bashes women’s bodies and only portrays one body type, we were taught to be negative about our body image.
We were taught to be the opposite of body positive.
But the good news is that with our words and actions, we can teach our children to be positive about their body image.
Children learn to judge others and their own bodies because of what they see. Their minds are like sponges and it’s our job to shape them into confident, loving and kind adults. I’ve spent a lot of my adult life working with children.
As a teacher and as a nanny I’ve noticed that girls are becoming more insecure about their bodies earlier on.
When I was a 2nd grade teacher in Detroit, some of my 7-year-old students talked about how they were fat and wanted to be skinnier. I was shocked how at that age, girls are worrying about their bodies – they hadn’t even come close to puberty!
It breaks my heart that this is what children are focusing on. I truly believe that if we learn to change the way we speak about others and our own bodies, we can raise our daughters to be stronger and more confident women.

As a teacher and as a nanny I’ve noticed that girls are becoming more insecure about their bodies earlier on.

From an early age, the messaging that young girls receive through the media, clothing, TV, and movies is completely different than boys.
We see boys’ t-shirts with words like “Future President,” or “Superhero,” while girls’ shirts are covered in words like “Princess” and “Cutie Pie.” The message that gets engrained in children’s minds is that boys will be strong, successful, and smart . . . and girls, well we can look pretty and will be saved by a prince.
There is so much focus on how a woman should look, and no matter how often you may tell your daughter she is beautiful and perfect just as she is, if you aren’t mirroring those words with the actions of a confident and strong woman, your daughter may still take on these negative beliefs.
The way we talk about women and their bodies in front of our daughters will shape the way they see themselves and we want to shape them to see their true and authentic, real beauty.

If we learn to change the way we speak about others and our own bodies, we can raise our daughters to be stronger and more confident women.

When I have my own children, I intend to be very careful about how I talk about my body and also how I talk about others in front of them. After all, our daughters are, and will always be, listening.

Here Are 4 Tips For Raising a Body Positive Daughter:

These tips will help ensure your daughter will be body positive and confident as she grows into her adult life.

1. Watch Your Words

Try to refrain from making negative comments about your body, weighing yourself, or talking about diets in front of your daughter. When your child sees her mom stand on a scale and your face falls in disappointment or she sees anger on your face when something doesn’t fit right, she takes that in.
Of course, there will be moments where your insecurities may come out and you should use those opportunities to be transparent about them.
Tell your daughter, “Sometimes Mommy doesn’t always feel good in her skin, but that doesn’t mean I don’t love my body and all it does for me. See these stretch marks? Sometimes I don’t like them, but they remind me of having you in my belly and that is a beautiful thing. These stretch marks show me that I could grow something beautiful like you!”


2. Food Positivity

Teach your daughter the importance of listening to her body and all of its cues – the feelings of being full or hungry, and honoring those. There shouldn’t be anything negative associated with eating and food. Refrain from talking about “good” and “bad” foods – food does not have a moral compass.
Tell your daughter that all food can fit into her life and that to become strong and healthy, she needs to nourish her body with all sorts of things! Don’t use phrases like “Candy is bad for you.” Your daughter may think that if she eats candy, then SHE is bad.

Refrain from talking about “good” and “bad” foods – food does not have a moral compass.

You could rephrase those words and say something like, “If you eat too much candy, it might make your tummy hurt, and we don’t want you to feel sick.” Food should be enjoyable and kids should be able to explore different types of food. Make it known that being healthy means a healthy mind, body and soul!

3. Who, Not How

Teach your daughter not to talk about anyone else’s body. To reinforce this, refrain from making comments about people’s outward appearances. Focus on their ability, what they can do and who they are – not how they look.
Talk about how all bodies are different and healthy can look different on everyone! Never make comments on how someone is “fat” or “skinny” and just focus on things like WHO people are, not their bodies.


4. Fitness Fun

When talking about exercise and fitness, use positive words and never associate working out as a punishment for eating. Show your daughter that being active and getting outside makes you feel good, energized, and strong! Make being active fun for your children and teach them that physical activity will help them live a long life and be strong just like their mama!

The Takeaway On Raising a Body Positive Daughter

Just remember – you’re not perfect and sometimes things will slip out when you are in front of your children. But it’s important that you are able to have those conversations with your kids and create a safe space for communication.
There will be moments where you feel insecure, your daughter feels insecure, or comments are made that may leave an impression – that’s just life.
But if the overall message in your home is that people are not their bodies and she is a strong, smart, healthy, and capable child, you’re more likely to raise a confident and strong-willed woman.
Be the role model and confident woman we all needed when we were younger. And remember, YOU TOO are strong, capable, and smart, no matter what.

For more about the writer’s journey to body positivity, read: From Eating Disorders to Body Positive: This Is How I Learned to Finally Love My Body

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Julia Parzyck

I’m Julia, a body-positive ally, a self-love advocate, and eating-disorder warrior. I help young girls and women find self-love, body-appreciation, and empowerment in being their true selves. I believe that happiness means having a healthy mind, body, and soul and living life to the fullest!


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