Is your daughter being body shamed by her friends? Let's talk about it in this week's Tips on
Teens. My name is Kent Toussaint. I'm a licensed marriage and family therapist, and my specialty
is in helping kids, teens, and families live happier lives. I run two organizations. I run the
group prayer practice Teen Therapy Center. I also run the non -profit organization Child and
Teen Counseling, both here in Woodland Hills, California. So every Wednesday at noon, I join
you on your lunch break to answer your parenting questions. Let's jump into this week's question.
I saw some really mean texts from my daughter's friend pop up on her phone. Friend, by the way.
The texts were about her weight and her looks. To me, they sounded like the words of a bully, not
a friend. But my daughter brushed me off and said it's fine. I don't want to be controlling of
her social circle, but I am genuinely concerned that this friendship will hurt my daughter
in the long run. What do I do? I think it's a topic
that a lot of parents can relate to. I think the statistics are something like 96 % of girls experience,
report experience body shaming in some way. I think 65 % of boys experience it. It's been around
for a long time. Most of us adults experienced it in the past too, especially if you're female.
It's a big topic and it's it's a loaded, loaded thing to talk about. Number one, trying to legislate
her friends is a challenge. The more you try to limit those friendships, the more she's gonna
want to be with them. There's something about those friendships, even if they're not healthy
that she's drawn to there. She feels that's the only place she can find acceptance They're really
cool. She wants to be part of that group She's afraid if she leaves that group, they'll all be
mean to her. She won't have any friends There's a lot of reasons why she may feel she needs to connect
with those friends The other thing is she may say ah, it's nothing. We're just playing around
We're just teasing each other,
you know locker room talk right and that's more common among boys I'm not saying girls don't
do it because girls do but you know It can have a astounding effect on top of that You have all the
media the social media the influencers the quote -unquote fitness models that are influencing
our kids that In conjunction with what's going on with the the body shaming and the bullying
can lead to some really severe Depression it can lead to eating disorders a lot of different
issues and go a lot a lot of bad ways and go So what do you do about this? You know, you can tell her
don't be friends with her anymore She's gonna hold on that friend even more dearly and what I
would recommend instead is try to inoculate her to this by Making sure that your home environment
is healthy So how you talk about bodies and how you talk about her physical body is in a more healthy
way So, what does that mean? That means stop talking about her weight Stop talking about your
weight because when you talk about you
you're talking about her as well So if you're talking about oh my gray hair, I'm getting old and
I'm don't fit in the same clothes I used to when I was 20 and my, you know, I'm wrinkly and I'm overweight
and all these things. They're going to take that and they're going to internalize it and they're
going to see themselves in the same way. So it's really important that as you talk about yourself,
you talk about your daughter, you're mindful of what the messages you're giving her. I'll give
you an example from my personal life. My six -year -old daughter recently said, Daddy, what
do you like best about me? I said, Oh, I love your heart. She said, No, my body. What do you like
best about my body? And inside I'm panicking, right? Oh my gosh, Kent, don't scar your child
forever with his answer. What are you going to say?" So I had to take a breath, be calm, and I said
something along the lines of, you know what? That's a really hard decision because I love everything
about you. I love your
eyes. I love your hair. I love your elbows. I love your belly button. I love your toes. I love your
knees. You can ask me today, and I pick one thing, and then tomorrow I pick something else. I don't
know how to choose that. What is your favorite thing? And she thought. She goes, my eyes. And
so I said, okay. And I kind of left it in her. I let her own that. It wasn't for me to decide what was
her best part. it's for her to decide. But also, when I talk to her, I talk to her about things like,
you know, I appreciate her resilience, her strength, her courage, her ability to share her
feelings with me. Those are things that I focus on with my daughter. Do I still tell my daughter
she's beautiful? Yes, because she's beautiful no matter what. And there are people who say,
don't ever mention anything about a body, any judgment, and I disagree with that. I think it's
okay to give positive reinforcement that she is beautiful, no matter what she looks like, because
there's so many other criteria,
or not criteria, but messages in the world, whether it's media, social media, friends, whatever,
who may give her a different opinion that I disagree with. So, I want to promote her feeling beautiful
no matter what she is. So, if she's trying on a new pair of jeans, and instead of saying, hey, do
those look good? I say, hey, are those comfortable? Do you like how they feel? Right? I also,
if I'm going to talk about her body, I talk about how her fingers can dance along the piano keys.
How much fun it is for her to kick a soccer ball. How much fun is to throw a ball to catch. How much
fun is to swim in the pool. You know, what her body can do, not how it looks. I think that's what
we need to focus on. If you can help your daughter focus on that, it may help her balance out the
negative issues she's getting from her friends. On top of that, I would talk to her about what
is the message she's getting from her friends. Does she agree with it? How does it make her feel?
Does she say the same
things to them? right? I would also talk about the media she's consuming. You know, is she always
on her Instagram is a bunch of fitness models, right? You know, that is a skewed view of what an
average female person looks like, right? Most people don't look like that. Most people cannot
look like that. Even if they have, you know, surgeries and, you know, exercise seven days a week
and only eat broccoli and whatever it is, any kind of unhealthy thing they're doing, most people
cannot get there. it is an unattainable goal for any of us. It's like most of us will not be professional
basketball players. I will not be a professional basketball player no matter how much I'd want
to be. It's not gonna happen, right? Most of us are like that. Now, there are very few people who
can play basketball at a professional level. There are very few people who can be a runway model.
Very few. And that should not be the epitome of what we want to be. You know, I love basketball,
but I don't need to be a
basketball player to feel like I'm a a good person, a worthwhile person. So with your daughter,
does she need to be a runway model or a social media influencer to feel like a good person? Or can
she feel good about herself just being her? And I think those are the kind of conversations you
want to be having with your daughter. So if she can eventually see that these friends are unhealthy,
it's easier for her to transition and move toward a more healthy relationship with other friends.
Again, this is a big topic. We can talk for hours about this, but this is just kind of scratching
the surface, hopefully whetting your appetite to go out, read more, talk to therapists more,
talk to nutritionists more, you know, get real information so you can have real open and respectful
conversations with your daughters and your sons, by the way, too. Anyways, that is our question
for today's Tips on Teens. Thank you very much for your question. If you have a question, please
teentherapycenter .com or you can direct message us right here on Facebook. We love hearing
your questions. Again, my name is Kent Toussaint and this This is Tips on Teens and I'll see you
next week, Wednesday at 12. Bye -bye.
We want the people our teens spend time with to treat them with respect and kindness—especially once they start dating! So what do you do if relationship red flags start popping up in your teen’s romance? Here’s this week’s #TipsOnTeens question:
“My 15 year old daughter started liking a boy over the past year and after she turned 15 they started ‘dating,’ which means that they can be driven to a public place and spend time together or be at his house or ours with parents present. With quarantine, they mostly ‘hang out’ virtually.
He is a polite boy with a good heart. However, there have been occasions when he has become quite upset that she is spending time (via FaceTime, text, etc.) with other friends and not him. And then when she’s interacting with her other friends he is constantly texting or calling her AND the friend. I’ve talked with her about how controlling and unhealthy that is. (And I also believe some of it is just immaturity) I’ve talked with him and his mom and he has started going to counseling.
I’ve debated whether to exert more parental control and enforce restrictions on their relationship. With COVID, they don’t spend as much time together in person, but he’s always calling or texting her nonstop. Honestly, I have more than one question about this situation, but if I have to choose one, my question is this: While I do not like this controlling, immature behavior coming from him, I want to know what I can do to help my daughter stand up for herself?
She’s so passive. I hadn’t realized how much until this. We talk about it whenever it happens and she tells me she knows it’s not good or appropriate, but she’s not telling him! I know they care about each other and I’ve tried to be patient and understanding, but it just happened again. It causes so much stress and she has got to speak up for herself. I’m afraid that even if this boyfriend goes away, she’ll find herself in the same situation with the next one, or just in general.”
Tips On Teens is a vlog that our Clinical Director, Kent Toussaint, hosts every Wednesday at 12:00pm on Facebook Live. He will be answering parenting questions submitted to us by you to our email at TipsOnTeens@TeenTherapyCenter.com. Send us any questions you might have about parenting kids and teens and Kent will be answering them every week!
Head on over to our Facebook page every Wednesday at 12:00pm to watch LIVE! Check out our page here – https://www.facebook.com/TeenTherapyCenter/
If you have more questions or would like more information, please contact our Clinical Director, Kent Toussaint at 818.697.8555.