Helping Daughters Develop a Positive Body Image

Growing up is awkward—adjusting to a new body shape, along with social pressures, can be tough.


As a parent, you can help your daughter accept her whole self as a unique and special person. Having a positive body image—how she sees, believes and feels about herself—will help her be more self-confident and instill healthy habits.

To encourage your daughter to feel good about herself, Sandhya Krishnan, Operations Manager for Chicago’s Girls on the Run program, which educates girls on self-respect and healthy living, suggests these tips for parents:

  • Avoid making judgmental comments about others or your daughter in front of her. Instead, emphasize we are all individuals and she should be herself, not what others think she should be.
  • Combat negative self-talk by helping your daughter imagine unplugging her body of harmful messages, such as “You aren’t smart,” “You shouldn’t get angry,” or “You’re not good at sports.” Have her imagine throwing these thoughts far away, and plugging in cord that feeds her a bright light of colorful, energetic, shameless feelings. This is a fundamental concept of GOTR and is very effective.
  • Don’t compare her to other girls, with comments like, “She’s developing young, you’re developing late.” Instead, tell her that everyone is on a different timeline and it’s not important when changes happen.
  • Know what’s going on in her life and online. Social media spreads messages quickly and can be shared with everyone. Talk openly about negative chatter that may happen online.
  • Help her celebrate the awesome things in her life!

Peggy Kresch, Personal Trainer and Program Coordinator for Miss FIT Teen, a healthy lifestyle program for girls 13 to 18 years old that includes fitness, nutrition and education, suggests the following tips to instill self-confidence in girls:

  • As parents, you are key role models, so be conscious of promoting whole food eating and an active lifestyle.
  • Help her find role models who are not in the media; a community or global leader who has helped others.
  • Don’t be concerned with the hottest fashion and what others are wearing in front of your child. She hears enough of this from her friends.
  • Build up her self-esteem. Emphasize she is a good person and she should take pride in herself, inside and out. Send an affirmative text message to your daughter saying, “Try to do something for someone else today,” “Love the whole you!” or “Good health is so much more than how you look—it’s how you think, what you feed yourself and the way you use you body every day. Be healthy!”

What do you do that helps instill self-confidence in your daughter? Share your comment below!

Other websites that are good resources for parents:

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