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Parenting skills needed to give daughters positive body image

Author James Dunsford
Submitted 08-05-2009

Though he may not be a father himself, singer-songwriter John Mayer had the right idea when he sang the chorus for his song Daughters.

"Fathers, be good to your daughters/ Daughters will love like you do."

This is especially true given that many women have issues with their body image or weight, which some have blamed on the media and how certain women are portrayed.

In a recent study from Temple University, researchers found that one in five women between the ages of 18 and 24 smoked as a way to keep a certain body image.

"A lot of college-age women report smoking to keep their weight down and for body image reasons," said Melissa Napolitano, a clinical psychologist at Temple’s Center for Obesity Research and Education.

Though the study examined older women, some psychologists have suggested that a positive body image for women can start when they are younger.

Dr Claudia Rappl told About.com that girls usually struggle with their body image more than boys and that a way to combat this is for fathers to be aware about what they say to their daughters as well as how they react to their bodies.

"Anything, such as a comment a parent makes, can set a child in the wrong direction," Rappl said.

The psychiatrist added that fathers should focus on things other than their daughter’s physical appearance, such as character, personality and talents.

Fathers who want to foster healthy development in their teenage daughters may want to encourage them to play sports while in high school. Studies have shown that girls who participate in sports are more likely to develop a positive body image when compared to girls who don’t.

In terms of a teen that is overweight, fathers should employ their parenting skills and handle the situation carefully. One way could be to instigate a family diet where everyone starts eating healthier and exercising.ADNFCR-1662-ID-19158951-ADNFCR