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101 Ways to Help Your Daughter Love Her Body

101 Ways to Help Your Daughter Love Her Body

4.0 1
by Brenda Lane Richardson, Elane Rehr, Elaine Rehr (Joint Author), Elane Rehr

Sit up straight so your tummy doesn't hang out. Thin is always in. You look so much prettier when you smile. Guys like girls with big boobs. Now that you've got your period, you's better be careful. I'd kill to have legs like yours.

With negative messages bombarding our girls on a daily basis — from misguided adults, from peers, from the media —


Sit up straight so your tummy doesn't hang out. Thin is always in. You look so much prettier when you smile. Guys like girls with big boobs. Now that you've got your period, you's better be careful. I'd kill to have legs like yours.

With negative messages bombarding our girls on a daily basis — from misguided adults, from peers, from the media — how can our daughters possibly feel good about their bodies? While you may not single-handedly be able to change society there are ways to make sure that your daughter's sense of self is strong and sustaining. In fact, this hands-on guide offers 101 ways!

In 101 Ways to Help Your Daughter Love Her Body, two mothers — one a clinical psychologist, the other an award-winning journalist — have teamed up to provide parents with practical ideas tailored to girls from birth through the teenage years. These initiatives inform parents and encourage them to take active roles in helping their daughters develop confidence, treat their bodies with love and respect, and make peace with their unique builds so that they can revel in a sense of femaleness and physical competence.

Psychologically astute and fun to read, this proactive guide will help define a new generation of healthy girls. There's no better time than now to help our daughters, young and growing, learn to love their bodies.

Editorial Reviews

Jacquelyn Mitchard
“This book is better than the usual. Both honest and gentle, it doesn’t condemn. It acknowledges every mother’s wish….”
New Moon Network
"A very specific and helpful guide for concerned parents and other adults…particularly handy."
From Barbies to Britney Spears, developing girls are bombarded with sounds and images that make the process of body acceptance and the healthy self-esteem related to it difficult in today's culture. Journalist Richardson and Rehr, a professor of women's and adolescent psychology, provide practical ideas to help parents examine their role in body acceptance and become a positive influence in the lives of their daughters. Their book is organized into thirteen chapters that look at various aspects of body image development, not only through the role of parents but also through emotions, basic health and eating habits, safety issues, and positive sexuality. Within each chapter short, enumerated advice is presented. Tip #29 is to encourage reading. The advice uses a variety of tactics from talking about things, such as deconstructing images and discussing feelings, to doing things, such as learning to swim and remembering old jump-rope rhymes. Readers can focus on certain topics such as sexuality, read the whole book through, or pick out an idea here or there for reflection. This book's conservative tendencies might not be embraced by all readers, but the ideas are solid and can be adapted and applied according to personal tastes. Richardson and Rehr write a well-organized and thoroughly thought-out handbook for any parent, teacher, or professional looking for practical, realistic ways to help teenage girls develop a healthy body image. This book is highly recommended. Notes. 2001, Quill/HarperCollins, 225p, $13 pb. Ages Adult. Reviewer:Karen Jensen—VOYA, December 2001 (Vol. 24, No. 5)
Library Journal
With the goal of boosting girls' self-esteem and self-image, these two mothers Richardson is an author, journalist, and speaker, while Rehr is a professor of women's psychology have collaborated on this well-meaning collection of child-rearing tips. Their suggestions range in length from one to two pages and cover topics such as nutrition, positive role modeling, fostering emotional well-being, and physical fitness. While the tips themselves are useful, the book's format tends to fragment the authors' message and make them repeat their points. Although the authors' goals are admirable, and information is needed (the Eating Disorders Awareness Prevention web site estimates that on any given day, about 50 percent of American girls are dieting), this work will have limited appeal. It is directed to parents (primarily mothers), but it ranges so broadly from preschool-age to teenage girls that the core audience may be hard to identify. Recommended only for large collections. Kay Brodie, Chesapeake Coll., Wye Mills, MD Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

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HarperCollins Publishers
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5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.58(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Beyond Lullabies

Teaching Body Comfort to Little Ones

It's true that the youngest children don't necessarily understand our words, but we know that they can read our body language and tone of voice and can even pick up on our reaction to them from the way we hold and touch them and the tone of our voices. The messages that they intercept during the first seven years of their lives are not forgotten; rather, they become part of an enduring pattern on their central nervous systems. That means we can give our little ones indelible memories of body comfort and tranquillity.

(1) Learn Baby Massage

As a mom, you already know there is nothing more comforting you can give your infant than your reassuring touch. It is by far your most intimate and powerful way of communicating love and reassurance. So why not improve upon something that you already know works?

Massage, which relieves tension, promotes blood flow, and calms the nervous system, will help your baby love being in her body right from the start. Thousands of parents have already learned baby massage, and you can too — applying loving touch to your daughter's skin, muscles, tendons, and ligaments.

"Sometimes when our little ones are crying, we try everything — changing the diaper, feeding, burping, rocking — but nothing seems to work," explained Christine Sutherland, a veteran massage practitioner in Nelson, British Columbia. She has taughtscores of parents how to give their babies the deep-down comfort of trained touch. But Sutherland doesn't just teach baby massage, she practiced it on her daughter, Crystal. "I remember working on her little arms and legs, her back and feet, watching her relax, the tension flowing out of her. I knew she could feel my approval of her body on a level that didn't require intellectual skills."

There's research to indicate that Sutherland's motherly instincts are right on target. According to some studies, massage can lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol — which can help boost a baby's immune system. Massaged preemies have also been found to gain weight faster than nonmassaged ones.

Parents of fretful babies may also opt for massage as a way of weaning infants six months and older from pacifiers. Studies have found an association between the continuous use of pacifiers and ear infections in children older than six months (although they are encouraged for helping younger babies fall asleep and for decreasing the risk of sudden infant death syndrome).

Should you decide to learn baby massage, encourage your husband to join you. Some fathers have found that learning baby massage helped them feel more comfortable about holding their little ones. Your baby will feel more relaxed if her daddy is, too.

Sutherland's daughter is now a freshman in college, but she still looks forward to her mom's weekly massages. Sutherland said that during the teenage years, when Crystal's friends went through a period of obsessing over their physical features, "she was at peace about her body. She has no sense of being anything but beautiful." Sutherland credits her daughter's body acceptance to her early exposure to massage. "When a child experiences safe touch from someone she loves, it's a validation of her body." For much the same reason, massage has been found to be helpful in treating anorexia.

How can you learn baby massage? Ask your physician or a friend for recommendations for a massage therapist. Also, check with your health insurance carrier — some now cover massage treatments. Finally, check the Internet under "Baby Massage."

(2) Explore Fears of Baby Fat

Kara Lea, a mother in Louisville, Kentucky, winced when she recalled her husband's response to their daughter, who at the time was thirteen months old and chubby. "Steve bought her a toddler tricycle. He felt she needed to exercise. Now, this was a child who had been chubby since she was six months old and only surviving on breast milk. Her baby fat had nothing to do with overeating. But Steve kept joking that Rachel had thunder thighs and that she needed to work off the fat. He said that maybe there was a Richard Simmons tape for infants. I couldn't stop him with his damn fat jokes."

We can certainly understand Kara Lea's irritation, and we can also understand her husband's fear, the emotion that drove him to make such insensitive jokes. In a society in which fat is an anathema, the most well-meaning parents tend to panic even over baby fat. That panic can become part of the emotional atmosphere in a home, affecting all occupants. Since even the youngest children can sense parental conflict, little Rachel may well have picked up on the fact that she caused tension between her parents. There is the additional problem of any feelings of rejection her father's responses may have engendered. Steve may have communicated his disapproval by holding her rigidly or occasionally frowning when he looked at her. No one would choose to convey such damaging messages to a child, but a great deal of one's behavior is determined by unconscious thoughts.

If you're concerned about your baby being fat, it may help you to know that researchers who examined the heights and weights of 854 people found that fat infants (those under age three) were no more likely to be fat adults than were babies of normal weights. Simply put, fat babies don't necessarily become fat adults.

If baby fat is seen as a problem in your home, you should also know that a child who senses a parent's disapproval will feel emotionally abandoned. And children who are struggling with issues of abandonment often soothe themselves with food. This means that a parent's overreaction to an infant's body can contribute to future eating problems. You may also want to discuss the matter with your daughter's pediatrician. Rachel's physician assuaged...

What People are Saying About This

Jacquelyn Mitchard
“This book is better than the usual. Both honest and gentle, it doesn’t condemn. It acknowledges every mother’s wish….”

Meet the Author

Trained as a minister, Brenda Lane Richardson is a journalist, active public speaker, and the author of Story Power, The Language of Fertility, and Chesapeake Song. She has written a column for the Oakland Tribune, and her work has appeared in Essence, Glamour, Ms., and the New York Times Magazine.

Elane Rehr, has been a professor of psychology at Diablo Valley College since 1973, specializing in women's psychology and adolescent psychology.

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101 Ways to Help Your Daughter Love Her Body 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Busy__Mom More than 1 year ago
After reading the summary of this book on parentsdigest.com, I thought to myself, "I wish every mother with a teenaged daughter owned this!" There's so much pressure in society for the idealized version of perfection, which we all know no one can meet - this offered many ways to help my daughter love who she is without buckling under the stress of trying to be perfect.