How to Talk to Teen Girls about Their Weight

mother daughterThis is often a sensitive topic for mothers and their daughters. I’ve spoken with many teenage girls who were upset by having their mom bring up their weight. I’ve spoken with even more moms who were frustrated with their inability to talk with their daughters without the conversation ending with shouts or tears.

Moms obviously want their children to be happy and healthy. Unfortunately, each year seems to bring on more issues with body image and more children who are overweight.

First, if your daughter doesn’t bring up her weight or seem to notice health issues, I would recommend asking her doctor to talk with her. Simply calling her regular doctor and asking her to address your daughter’s weight during her next visit is a great way to plant the seed that there is an issue that needs to be addressed. There’s no need to seek out a special weight-loss clinic. You want this to be as comfortable as possible for your child, and anything weight-loss related will likely make her defensive and upset.

In most cases, however, your daughter will at some point mention something about her weight that will give you a small opening to start the discussion. This often happens while shopping for clothes or putting on a swimsuit, but could pop up anytime. When this happens, do your best to let her do most of the talking. Ask her why she’s upset about her body. Ask her if there’s something she’d like to try to change about her current situation. If she’s feeling overwhelmed or frustrated, offer to make an appointment for her to talk with a psychologist, nutritionist, and/or personal trainer. This is generally a rough age for mother-daughter relationships, so finding a third party that she can talk with will make things easier for both of you. 

If she does have some ideas of her own, hear her out and then be supportive. If she wants to try to eat better or start exercising, work together to create a plan. Look for healthy recipes that you can make together, make after-dinner walks a new family ritual, or sign up for a weekly yoga class together. Regardless of how much she shares with you, do your best to set a good example and make things as easy as possible for her. Don’t buy junk food. Cook healthy dinners that are delicious and filling. Let her see you exercising… and, hopefully, enjoying it. Do your best to treat yourself well, too. Take a bath. Read a book. Relax. Love your body. If you don’t like your own body, there’s a good chance your daughter won’t like hers either… even if she is at a healthy weight.

Remember that this will be a slow process. The goal is for your daughter to live a long, happy, and healthy life. She needs to find what works for her so that she can enjoy her food and fitness and not feel like it’s a chore. This is different for everyone, so be patient with her and celebrate her successes. 

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