Tag Archives: What’s on Your Mind?

Body Image

June 20, 2013 by

Q: My teenage daughter is trying to diet because all of her friends are on diets. I’m worried she’s developing an unhealthy attitude about her body, as well as food, and I don’t want her to starve herself. How can I discuss my worry with her and get her to think more positively about her body?

A: Your relationship with your daughter will affect your approach. When you have a good opportunity, try mentioning to your daughter that you’ve noticed several of her friends are dieting. Ask her what she thinks or how she feels about it and give her time to answer. If she mentions feeling bad about her body, try asking how long she’s been feeling that way or if she can tell you about when it started. Pay attention, be interested in her responses, and stay neutral. If your daughter feels like you’re judging her or her friends, her defensiveness could lead to an argument, or she’ll simply be done talking.

Depending on the situation, some of the following ideas may be applicable:

  • If your family meals or eating habits really could use a makeover, approach it as an entire family without singling out your daughter.
  • Work on body image together with your daughter, keeping each other accountable regarding negative body image statements.
  • Write a note for your daughter sharing what you’re feeling. Be positive in the words you choose and let her read it on her own time.
  • Affirm your daughter’s strengths and her beauty. Be specific so she knows you’re sincere.
  • Avoid putting value on food. It isn’t good or bad; it’s just food. And she’s not good or bad based on what she eats.
  • Finally, what is YOUR attitude toward food and your body? Don’t underestimate the influence you have on your daughter. Think about how your answers to the following questions affect your daughter’s self-image, as well as your own:
  • Do you think and speak positively about your body?
  • Are you critical of other women’s appearance or of what/how much they eat?
  • When you receive a compliment regarding something appearance-related, do you disagree, and then start pointing out other things you don’t like about yourself?
  • Do you make negative comments about a body feature you share with your daughter? You may realize that this is a great time to work on your self-image as well.

Deb Fuller is a mental health therapist with Real Life Counseling in Omaha.

Coping with the Loss of a Pet

May 25, 2013 by

Q: We had to give one of our dogs to another family because we’re moving, and my daughter is not handling it very well. What should I do? She is 9.

A: Losing a pet, for any reason, is often hard for kids. Pets become part of the family, so expect your daughter to go through a grieving process. Anger, tears, irritability, sadness…any of these might show up, so be patient as she works through them.

If your daughter is one who likes to talk at bedtime, hang out with her a little longer than usual. Even if neither of you says anything, your presence can be comforting. Share your feelings, but chances are there isn’t anything you can say that will change the situation, so let her do most of the talking. Also, take her lead on discussing the possibility of a new pet in the future. Be cautious not to convey the message that her pet is easily replaceable, and don’t make promises you might not be able to keep.

Will the new family send pictures? Your daughter might not want to see them right away, but it’s helpful to have them if this changes. Pictures also help hold onto good memories, so try putting together a photo album or scrapbook of the pet if it’s something she would enjoy. Working with her on the project provides another opportunity for her to talk to you about whatever’s on her mind.

As she adjusts to life without her pet, keep her busy. If you can make it work, trying letting her spend some extra time with friends or family. Having fun is a great way to keep her mind off feeling sad.

Deb Fuller is a mental health therapist with Real Life Counseling in Omaha.