By Christie Caggiani, RDN, LDN, CEDRD
School shopping. Two words that come with a bundle of emotions, not the least of
which include excitement, frustration, anxiety and anticipation. As parents, it can
give us pause, as we stop for a moment and notice the speed at which our kids are
growing up. It’s amazing how quickly a school year flies, and more amazing still,
how fast summer seems to evaporate. And now it’s time to shop for school
supplies…..and new clothes.
Clothes shopping is one time when we have an amazing opportunity to dialogue
with our children about the normalcy of growth, bodies and change. While our
bodies as adults can fluctuate and continue to evolve, our kids’ bodies are
transitioning at a pretty rapid pace. It’s vital that we know how to support them
when they have questions, and it’s important that they understand we love them as
individuals, not based on any aspect of their physical appearance. And while that
may sound extremely logical, we need to be aware of the subtle messages we send
our kids. Don’t be surprised when they have grown out of their clothes, in many
cases needing new duds from just a few short months ago. Catch yourself before
commenting, “I just bought that. How come it doesn’t fit anymore?” implying that
she’s done something wrong simply by growing.
One of my very favorite articles discusses how to talk to – or not talk to – our
daughters about their bodies. Read on for some inspiration and reinforcement as
you work to support your own growing kids!
How to Talk to Your Daughter about Her Body
Step one: Don’t talk to your daughter about her body, except to teach her how it
Don’t say anything if she’s lost weight. Don’t say anything if she’s gained weight.
If you think your daughter’s body looks amazing, don’t say that.
Here are some things you can say instead:
“You look so healthy!” is a great one.
Or how about, “You’re looking so strong.”
“I can see how happy you are — you’re glowing.”
Better yet, compliment her on something that has nothing to do with her body.
Don’t comment on other women’s bodies either. Nope. Not a single comment, not a nice
one or a mean one.
Teach her about kindness towards others, but also kindness towards yourself.
Don’t you dare talk about how much you hate your body in front of your daughter, or talk
about your new diet. In fact, don’t go on a diet in front of your daughter. Buy healthy
food. Cook healthy meals. But don’t say, “I’m not eating carbs right now.” Your daughter
should never think that carbs are evil, because shame over what you eat only leads to
shame about yourself.
Encourage your daughter to run because it makes her feel less stressed. Encourage your
daughter to climb mountains because there is nowhere better to explore your spirituality
than the peak of the universe. Encourage your daughter to surf, or rock climb, or
mountain bike because it scares her and that’s a good thing sometimes.
Help your daughter love soccer or rowing or hockey because sports make her a better
leader and a more confident woman. Explain that no matter how old you get, you’ll never
stop needing good teamwork. Never make her play a sport she isn’t absolutely in love
Prove to your daughter that women don’t need men to move their furniture.
Teach your daughter how to cook kale.
Teach your daughter how to bake chocolate cake made with six sticks of butter.
Pass on your own mom’s recipe for Christmas morning coffee cake. Pass on your love of
Maybe you and your daughter both have thick thighs or wide ribcages. It’s easy to hate
these non-size zero body parts. Don’t. Tell your daughter that with her legs she can run a
marathon if she wants to, and her ribcage is nothing but a carrying case for strong lungs.
She can scream and she can sing and she can lift up the world, if she wants.
Remind your daughter that the best thing she can do with her body is to use it to mobilize
her beautiful soul.
How to Talk to Your Daughter About Her Body