With summer approaching, pools, lakes, and beaches will be opening. Swimming is a great summer activity for kids of all ages. It gets them outside and keeps them active. However, you may notice that your preteen or teen girl seems apprehensive about the upcoming swimming season.
All of the pressures and expectations from media and peers make many girls feel uncomfortable and unconfident in their own skin. They may shift and become wary of wearing swimsuits or swimming in public.
Here’s how you can prepare your teen girl for a summer of swimming.
Focus on Health Over Looks
As girls go through puberty, their bodies change. Many girls begin to hang on to a little more fat than they may have as young children. These changes can make many preteen girls feel self-conscious. One way to focus on a positive self-image is to focus on health. Never comment on your child’s weight or appearance, instead focus on making healthy choices. Define health as fueling your body and staying active. Make the goal of healthy living about performance, not appearance. For example, instead of encouraging a teen to “eat better and work out” to lose weight, make it about feeling better and getting stronger.
Preteen and teen girls may speak poorly of themselves, shaming their appearance. This negative self-talk is detrimental to self-esteem and can lead to harmful behavior. Help your daughter practice positive self-talk. Work together to create affirmations. Focus the affirmations on nonphysical qualities when possible, like “I am a hard worker” or “ I show kindness to others.”
Pick Out a Suit
Another reason preteens start feeling self-conscious about their bodies is because of the pressure to wear revealing clothing or suits. Help your daughter find a swimsuit she enjoys and is comfortable in. A modest swimsuit does not have to be a one-piece swimsuit. Work together to find a suit that makes her feel comfortable in her skin.
Lead by Example
Serve as a role model for a healthy self-image. Don’t talk poorly about your own appearance in front of your child. Never pick at your fat or shame yourself in front of the mirror. Talk about your good qualities and how you can improve as a person. Part of a healthy self-image is the willingness to improve, but it must be productive and positive.
Using the strategies above, you can help your preteen build her confidence and prepare for a summer of swimming. Creating a healthy body image will require patience and guidance over time, but it will help your daughter develop into a confident, self-assured woman.