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159: How to talk to your daughter about her body

By October 12, 2021November 8th, 2023Mastermind Parenting Podcast

In this episode, I share a few stories about girls, their changing bodies and how to help them have a healthy body image.

As always, thanks for listening, and be sure and head over to Facebook and you can join my free group Mastermind Parenting Community, where we post tips and tools and do pop up Live conversations where I do extra teaching and coaching to support you in helping your strong-willed children so that they can FEEL better and DO better. If you enjoyed this episode and think that others could benefit from listening, please share it!

About Randi Rubenstein

Randi Rubenstein helps parents with a strong-willed kiddo become a happier family and enjoy the simple things again like bike rides and beach vacays.

She’s the founder of Mastermind Parenting, host of the Mastermind Parenting podcast, and author of The Parent Gap. Randi works with parents across the U.S.

At Mastermind Parenting, we believe every human deserves to have a family that gets along.

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Transcription

0 (1s):
My name is Randi Rubenstein, and welcome to the Mastermind Parenting Podcast at Mastermind Parenting, we’re on a mission to support strong-willed kids and the families that love them. You’re listening to the Mastermind Parenting Podcast with Randi Rubenstein episode 1 59. I want to talk about girls and body image and just some conversations I’ve been having with parents. Recently, I had a mom that I coached recently and she said, my five-year-old. She came to me and said, why are my legs so fat? And, and so obviously mom was very concerned.

0 (42s):
Her daughter’s five and, and she’s in the mom said, you know, she’s got this little best friend and a little best friend is built differently than her and has, you know, these tiny little stick legs. And so my daughter is noticing that her legs look different than our friend’s legs. And she came to me and, you know, I didn’t know how to handle this issue. And of course, mom is going into fear and eating disorders and all the things that all of our brains go into. I actually had my daughter say something to me. Well, I noticed when she was about eight, she started like wearing these little short sweat pants over her bathing suit.

0 (1m 22s):
And, and I, I could, I didn’t really make a big deal out of it, but then I was like, you know, what’s going on with that? And it turned out that she, you know, she was real, she was always running and playing and she’s a very athletic girl and she, her legs, like the muscles were growing in her legs. And she sort of like felt her body changing. She felt her legs getting bigger and stronger, and she felt uncomfortable in her body. And she just like, couldn’t really understand it. And if I have made a whole big issue out of it, I think it would have just, it could’ve blown up into a much bigger issue, but what ended up happening when I realized it was that her legs were just getting more muscular.

0 (2m 13s):
And so we, you know, and I’m her mom who’s built differently than her. And I think she was just starting, you know, it’s like, they look at their moms and they feed off of a lot of things about us and our bodies and, or compare themselves. And, you know, I started showing her pictures of like Jillian Michaels and different athletic people that I was like, you know, you’re you run fast. There’s a reason why you run fast. So of course the muscles in your legs are supporting you, being that fast runner don’t you like being a fast runner? And she was like, yes. And I was like, and so you have these amazing muscles and they’re growing. I mean, look at how fast you run.

0 (2m 54s):
And, and so, you know, as she got older, she and her continued to become more athletic. It’s not like she hasn’t struggled with any body image issues at all, because that has been a big part of our conversation and mistakes I’ve made, you know, and things that I’ve passed down to her, not realizing it and thinking that I was doing it so differently. And so that hasn’t been a big conversation. I’m very much on our, on my mind, but I wanted my daughter to definitely have a better sense of, I don’t know, just a better body image, a healthier relationship with her body. I didn’t want her to have to wait until she was a full in, like, not even a full fledged.

0 (3m 38s):
Grown-up like, I want to say, I didn’t really start having a decent relationship with my body. I can’t say that. It’s like, it’s definitely far from perfect. There’s many days where I’m like, oh, you know, especially as I age, but for the most part, it’s, it’s decent, but I wanted her to have a super healthy relationship with her body. And, and we’ve had to have a lot of conversations about this because, and I’ve had to do have a lot of productive conversations where I’ve apologized for messages and things that I have passed down to her without even realizing it. So this mom comes and she really wanted to know, you know, like what do I say?

0 (4m 19s):
And so I took it in a different direction and I was like, well, tell me about how you feel about your body and your legs. And the coaching session really turned into a whole conversation about mom and how she’s not feeling particularly great about her body and, and after the coaching session. And she was just realizing that she was comparing herself to 10 years younger, her, you know, pre kids, pre pandemic, pre you know, stressors in life. She was really comparing herself to when she was, I think, like 28. And she was at this stage of her life where everything was just for the most part, easy breezy.

0 (5m 8s):
And she made time for Pilates and she loved her job. And she had a new relationship with her boyfriend who turned out to be her husband. And it was all at the, you know, fun stages and like life and mortgages and kids and sleep deprivation and all and pandemic, like none of that had factor in factored in yet. And yeah, she, you know, she was making a lot of time for self-care and she said, she said, you know, and now it’s like, I am not doing those things. And with COVID, I’ve been working from home and then too much wine and yeah, like, like not feeling great about my body.

0 (5m 54s):
And I said, you know, these kids are so I they’re, they’re like little Yodas. They just pick up on all of it, even. I mean, this has been my experience, even when we think we’re saying all the right things are not passing down those messages, they it’s like, they just see into our soul, they see inside of us and they know. And so when we’re not feeling good about ourselves, quite often, they start to pick up on that and they don’t feel good about themselves. And so we were, you know, we were, I would say, I was saying like, like, why don’t you feel good about you?

0 (6m 35s):
And, and really, she, you know, I said, you know, your self care starts with, here’s your baby step. You need to take a nap. You need to like, when is there a time during the day where you can close your eyes even for 15 minutes, because she’s super sleep deprived. And I said, if you do the research, you know, we know that to live a long, healthy life, what are the things that we can actually control to help us live a long, healthy life? It’s, you know, food exercise, sleep, right relationships and all that weigh into, but food exercise, sleep.

0 (7m 16s):
And if you had to start with one it’s sleep, because when you’re chronically sleep deprived, it’s kind of like if you remember to be when you would get hung over, or if you ever are hung over, like you just crave the, the fatty or the sugary things to give you an instant kind of pleasure, hit to feel better. And then you crash later. And so if you’re walking around in a sleep deprived state, it’s kind of like that, like you’re not going to be making the best food choices. So let’s start with giving yourself some extra rest during the day. And she connected some dots and came back to me after the coaching session and said, I ha I realized for the last week or so, I had had a picture of the Keeney pot body me from when I was 28 posted on my bathroom mirror.

0 (8m 11s):
And, and I thought that that visual cue would be a reminder to get back to that place, that where I felt so good about myself. And she said, and I realized what it was doing was making me feel like crap about myself. And so I took it down. She said, and I guarantee you, my daughter looked at it and then looked at, you know, I don’t look like that anymore. And maybe started thinking about her body. So that’s the, that’s really the intention of this episode is you got to live it to give it, stop trying to fix your kids and model the behavior you want them to have. So if you want them to have a relationship, a healthy relationship with their bodies, start by figuring out how to have a healthy with Yours.

0 (8m 56s):
Where does your self care start? You know, we all, we, we usually think it starts with diet and exercise, but maybe even back it up and like this mom think about sleep, you know, are you getting enough rest? Because if you’re not getting enough rest, then you’re starting it off. You know, you’re starting the day off from a severe deficit and we often want to fix and solve this. I’m also speaking from experience here, solve things, fix other people as it, as like a subconscious deflection from doing the hard work of fixing ourselves.

0 (9m 38s):
So I want you to re you know, just beyond yourself, call yourself out on it. When you’re hyper fixating on your kid, gaining weight, or your kids saying something that shows that they’re not feeling good about themselves, like take a few deep breaths and ask yourself, where do I possibly feel this way as well. Right. And maybe instead of putting all your effort and energy on trying to fix them, start with you. Okay. I had a conversation with a dad recently who was concerned about his 15 year old daughter, and this is a divorced dad who has sole custody of his daughter.

0 (10m 27s):
Mom turned out that mom had been drinking for many years and hiding it. And, you know, nobody was dealing with mom, not really being a full functioning human until she sorta went off the rails. And now she’s in full blown alcoholism and she hasn’t seen her daughter in four months. And, and this dad is amazing. And, and really he’s been, he’s had sole custody for two years. So since his daughter was 13 and, and he just jumped in head first and, and they, I mean, it’s really spectacular to see what, what has happened for this daughter as he’s been, you know, he just stepped in and, and, and really rose to the occasion and realized, you know, he had to undo some damage of being raised with an alcoholic mother.

0 (11m 33s):
And there was lots of sedentary behavior because mom, frankly, was hung over a lot of the time. And so they watched a lot of TV and ate a lot of junk food and didn’t, you know, slept late and stayed up late. And, and, and the daughter really know wasn’t conditioned with getting up and eating healthy and living an active, productive life where she feels fully alive. And so, so the last two years, dad has been really, you know, kind of undoing that damage as much as possible. And so his daughter’s doing a lot better and seems a lot happier and, and, and really connected to him.

0 (12m 21s):
But what he said was, was, you know, she’s 15 now, and I’m starting to notice that, like, you know, she’s gaining some weight. And sometimes she changes outfits a lot before she goes and meets with her friends. And, and this dad is like, he’s like really, really, really into health and fitness. He’s a doctor. And he gets up early every morning. I mean, he’s, I want to tell you, he’s looked out like 7% body fat. He’s like, he’s like a superhuman kind of guy. And, and so he said, you know, I never talk about these things with her because I, I know enough about, you know, the body and he’s a super smart guy.

0 (13m 4s):
He’s like, I know enough about the body. And I know enough about women having issues with their bodies that, like, I know this is a taboo, taboo subject. And so I don’t talk to her about it, but I’m really concerned because all she wants to do is like, fill up on goldfish and crap and drink sodas. And she doesn’t want to eat a healthy meal. And, you know, I’m modeling the healthy meals, but she’s not taking part in them. And so what do I do? I like, if I can’t say anything to her about it, how do I actually instill this? So I really walked them through how to have a productive conversation with her. And I said, and remember, you know, you’re doing the grocery buying.

0 (13m 46s):
You don’t have to buy sodas, right? Like, like you could say, if you go out with your friends and you have a soda, like, that’s, you know, that’s your business, but in this household, like, I don’t drink soda. It’s a bunch of chemicals and stuff that is not good for the body. And so I’m not buying soda anymore. I’m not going to try to control you in you choosing to have sodas outside of the house, but we’re not doing that anymore. And I want you to be fully alive. I want you to feel good in your body. And, and, and I also want to sit down and have a meal with you after I, you know, work a long day and you’ve gone to school whole day.

0 (14m 30s):
Like I want to, I want to sit down with my daughter and have a meal, and I’d like us to make the meals together. You know, and frankly, I could use your help because when I come home, you know, I’m, I’m doing this, he’s actually doing this like training regimen for some, I don’t know, some, some, some athletic competition thing that he’s doing. And so he’s real, real, like clean in his eating. And he doesn’t eat past a certain time. And whatever I said, she knows you’re doing this. So saying to her, I want to be able to have dinner by six 30, but I don’t get home from work until six. So I need you to prep some of the things so that when I get it, when I get home, I can just, you know, cook the protein and you’ve done kind of the sous chef responsibilities.

0 (15m 17s):
And then we can sit down together and have a meal. And that’s gonna mean when you come home from school, like thinking about your body as a bank account, like if you fill up on a bunch of stuff at, you know, five o’clock, you’re not going to be hungry to sit down and have dinner with me. So having a little snack, right. When you come home from school and then waiting and, you know, prepping the things that need to be prepped at five 30. So that when I get home at six, you know, like working with her and really having this conversation, but it’s about you guys living a healthy lifestyle. You know, what I first said to him was, I said, do you have this example of one of your family members?

0 (15m 59s):
You know, even though you’re not married to her mom anymore, she’s still a family member. She, you still, she still, you guys share a child, right? And so she knows that her mom is down this dark path of alcoholism. She lived it. And she now knows she hasn’t seen her mom in four months. And when she does see her mom, she sees her mom is not healthy. And, and so she’s aware that all of this is going on and having a conversation like we’ve got a family member who is really struggling with things. And so it’s more important than ever for us to take care of our bodies.

0 (16m 43s):
And, and to learn from that example, that’s very relevant in our lives before us, you know, we like, I want more for you than that. I want more for your mom than that, but she’s an adult and whatever has gone on in her life, you know, she she’s, this is, this is her path right now. I hope that at some point she’s able to choose a different path, but, you know, I want everything for you as your dad. And frankly, I didn’t know, or I turned a blind eye to certain things that were going on, and I’m not doing that anymore.

0 (17m 24s):
Like, I love you the most. I want everything for you. So it’s very important to me that we live healthy lifestyles together. And, and I said, you know, think about all the times in your life where you were going down a dark road. Cause he is that guy who, you know, had kind of a rough past when he was a teenager and young adult. And I said, when you were, you know, going down that dark alley yourself thing about the friends and people in your life who were not on that same path, how did you respond when they pointed out to you? Hey, are you sure you want to be doing that? Are you sure you want it?

0 (18m 5s):
You should really shouldn’t. I said, how did you respond to that? He’s like, I just kept secrets from them and did it anyway. I said, exactly, nobody wants to be preached to nobody. And kids are smart, like, like explaining the why behind things. Like I want you to be fully alive. I want you to be able to feel great in your body. I want you to, you know, have a foundation that you come back to again and again and again, that knows that you are worthy of living the healthiest life possible. And I know it’s easy as a teenager to want to grab. What’s quick, fun and easy to, you know, to entertain yourself or to when you’re hungry, you know, just the quick snacks, but that’s not really aligned with what our core values are in this family.

0 (18m 57s):
So I’m not going to be buying soda anymore. I’m not going to try and control you if you have soda out of the house. And that’s something, a choice that you make to put in your, the bank account of your body, that’s your choice. But in this household, I, I really want, I really want us to live in a way that shows that we don’t just take our bodies for granted, you know, and, and we’re feeding ourselves and fueling ourselves the best way possible. I said, so have that conversation include her in the meals, let her be a valuable team member. Start to have these conversations from a place of awareness, you know, share with her.

0 (19m 39s):
You know, when you have a productive conversation, S a P C their perspective actively listen, problem solve together. You know, when you come at it, seeing somebody’s perspective, it’s not going to be the way people who were well-intentioned, but wanting to help you when you were going down, a Rocky road came at it. Nobody wants to be preached to, but when you hear somebody start a conversation from a place of I get it, I was a teenager once too, or I used to make choices that you wouldn’t even believe I would make at this point in my life. And they weren’t so healthy. And when people came and tried to tell me that I was doing it wrong, all it did was make me shut down and just become sneaky.

0 (20m 24s):
And I don’t want us to ever, I don’t want you ever to feel like you have to be sneaky around me or that I’m judging you. I want you just to be, to know that I just love you the most, and I want everything for you. And so, you know, when I’m getting up or when I’m forcing you to go on those, walks down the beach or do whatever, and you’re like, kind of rolling your eyes. I want you to, I understand that you’re a teenager and you’d much rather stay on the couch, watching YouTube or tick talk or whatever. I get it. And like, I want to connect with my daughter and I want you to feel alive. And I want to go outside and feel the fresh air. And, and it’s okay if you don’t always feel like doing those things, but I’m not gonna stop continuing to, to invite you and invite you and invite you.

0 (21m 14s):
And my goal is always that just that you are worthy of feeling fully alive, you know? So see her perspective, like, of course, you’re going to want to sit on my couch and do the YouTube and the tech talk. And it’s annoying when dad’s constantly, you know, see her perspective. I get it. And you know, I’m, I’m S I’m not going to stop. I love you too much. Not too. Okay. Then you actively listen. Is there, you know, is there something that you think that, that I do that just drives you crazy, that you feel like sabotages you from wanting to do the healthy things? What am I doing wrong? What can, you know, what are your thoughts on this?

0 (21m 56s):
And then you stop and you listen, you hate it. When I, when you’re like, you’ve had a whole long day and my timing’s bad, or you just woke up on the weekend and then I’m like, okay, get dressed, lay some up. We’re going, like, you just need a minute. You’re not always such a morning person. You need a few minutes. Okay. Yeah. It’s too much for you just because I’ve been up since 6:00 AM and it’s now 11 doesn’t mean you’re raring to go. You haven’t been up for five hours. Yeah. And it’s annoying. And you’re a teenager, teenagers stay up later and sleep later. That’s just the deal. And I’m like, you know, a middle-aged man. And sometimes I don’t always get that. And it’s annoying. Okay.

0 (22m 36s):
That, yeah. I hear that. And then when you problem solve together, it’s like, so what would work for you? Like, in terms of, of the healthy eating, let’s just say, and us having dinner together, what makes sense for you? You know, that thing I suggested about us, you know, eating, being able to eat by six 30, like you prepping and whatever, how do you feel about that? What and how questions, and then you stop and you pause and you allow the child to really be part of this problem solving process.

0 (23m 17s):
Because if they come up with the ideas, no, six 30 is just too early. Okay. Six 30 is too early. I mean, it works for me, but all right, what if we push it to 6 45? Would that be better for you? See, so now we’re like, like they’re adding to the equation. It’s not just, you’re aware of the highway. You guys are, co-creating your plan together. You’re always going to get more buy-in, you know, think about yourself when you’re part of the solution on something aren’t you more invested. It’s no different with our kids. So girls and body image and living a healthy lifestyle, the bottom line is you got to live it together.

0 (24m 4s):
Stop trying to fix other people before you focused on yourself and have productive conversations. Nobody likes to be preached at, include your kids in the process. Allow everyone to be a human. No, that teenagers are inherently lazy. A lot of the time. I mean, that’s just, and especially in this day and age where you have the screen, where they have the ability to go on the screen and go on the screen and go on the screen. So easy to get those little dopamine hits. And they’re at the most impulsive stage of development in their brains. So of course, they’re going to choose the screen every single time.

0 (24m 47s):
And what happens when you see them choosing the screen over and over and over again, like, you know, attacking the problem for the first time when they’re, when you’re in the moment, it’s never going to be productive. Have these conversations always at a non-relevant time and just know these productive conversations, they can be ongoing. And they don’t always have to involve all three steps. Every, you know, when you’ve had the conversation already and you come home, and this is what I say to, I said to him, when you come home and she’s sitting on the couch and at six o’clock, and you can tell there’s, there was no sous chef thing happening.

0 (25m 30s):
And you say, Hey, what happened? Did you prep anything? Oh, no. I forgot. Be like, okay. And then just go and do the things. Don’t make a big deal out of it and call her when it’s dinner time. And then that, you know, she might say, well, I’m not hungry. Okay. We’ll just come sit with me. And then she sits with you and then y’all have a conversation and you’re eating and whatever. And maybe after dinner, as y’all are cleaning up, you say, so how are we going to do it differently tomorrow? It’s easy to get caught up after a long day of school, on the couch, on your device.

0 (26m 11s):
It’s I understand you’re a teenager, you’re normal. So what’s going to be our system. So that time doesn’t get away from you tomorrow, you know, should we set a calendar reminder? So at five 30, it alerts you on buses and that’s when you know, time to put the tick dock down and time to go and get the meal prepared. Do you need to set a calendar reminder for right after school, eat a healthy snack so that you’re not all of a sudden starving at five o’clock, which is going to ruin your appetite

1 (26m 44s):
For our family meal. Like, let’s get some systems in place today. Didn’t go exactly accordingly and that’s okay. It’ll go better tomorrow. See, so we’re just having this ongoing productive conversation. Okay. Hope this was helpful. Thanks for listening today, guys. I hope you picked up some tips tools, maybe some baby steps for creating more balance and boundaries in your life. And I just wanted to let you know, if you want to continue moving the needle forward in creating this for yourself, having a happier household. I want you to go to my website and check out Mastermind, Parenting dot com.

1 (27m 24s):
We have three beginning programs, and if you need some accountability and more support, then please look for the one that would be a good fit for you. And as always, we’re on all the social channels under Mastermind Parenting on Instagram, it’s mastermind, underscore Parenting, and you know, periodically I do pop up on different Instagram lives, Facebook lives, where I give you teaching and coaching. And I love engaging with you live to help you help your strong-willed kids so that they can feel better because when they feel better, they do better.

1 (28m 4s):
And I love, love, love, getting to know you guys. So thanks for listening. If you liked this podcast, please don’t forget to subscribe, rate and review super, super appreciative.

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by Randi Rubenstein