How to Talk to Your Daughter About Her Body
It's Mom's job to make sure her daughter knows how her body works and how to best appreciate it. Get started with these talking pointers.
There comes a time when every girl needs to learn a little more about her body—how it works, which developments to expect and how to take care of and appreciate it. As a mom, it's your job to help educate your daughter about her body. It can be a sensitive topic, and sometimes an awkward one, so approach it with care. Here's where to start.
Talking About Puberty
If you're daughter's approaching adolescence, chances are that she's already absorbed some idea of what to expect in puberty from TV, the internet and friends at school. But it's still important to make sure she's got her facts straight, and ensure she knows she can go to you with any questions or concerns she might have once puberty starts to hit. You might even consider having this conversation with your daughter when she's younger, so she knows what's what before media and talk at school starts bombarding her with other ideas.
Most girls get their first period when they're 12 or 13, but some can get it as young as 9, or as old as 16. Your daughter should know what to expect from her period before it starts, so do your best to instigate a conversation about the menstrual cycle before she experiences it firsthand.
On top of the basics about menstruation, you'll also want to give her a heads-up on how her body might change during puberty, such as:
- Becoming more rounded in the hips and legs
- Breast growth
- Pubic hair, underarm hair and darker, thicker body hair
- Developing acne
Talking About Sexuality
By nature, that puberty talk might come accompanied by "the sex talk." Your daughter might not be comfortable talking about it, but that's no excuse. Eventually, she'll be dating and learning about her sexuality firsthand, and it'll be helpful for her to know she can come to you with issues pertaining to sex and relationships.
Do your best to explain the basics of sex without conveying fear, anger or judgment, as you want to keep the topic open and approachable for future reference. You can (and should) make your values clear to your daughter, but make sure she knows she can explore her own feelings and values with you, as well.
Statistically speaking, most kids in high school and younger are not having sex yet —but that doesn't mean your daughter won't face peer pressure about it. You'll want to make sure she knows she doesn't owe anyone anything, and that she doesn't need to have a sexual relationship in order to be accepted or fit in.
Talking About Body Image
Unfortunately, for many girls, puberty and developing sexuality come paired with body image issues. The media bombards children from a young age with ideas about what's sexy, and those ideas can often contribute to a negative body image. There are a few ways you as a mother can help combat this.
First, sympathize with your daughter. Listen to her concerns about her body, and let her know that you've struggled with your own body image issues, as well. Set an example for her of a woman who accepts and is comfortable with her own body. For example, eat nutritious meals, exhibit peace with your own body and let yourself slip up in your eating habits without calling it "bad" or worrying out loud about how it might affect your figure.
Of course, express plenty of kind thoughts to your daughter about her body—not only that you think she's beautiful, but that's she's capable and healthy, as well. Create an atmosphere that celebrates everything her body does on a daily basis.