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Ways to help girls develop healthy habits

A mother and daughter.

A teen’s health behaviors can have major effects on her health throughout her entire life. Here are some tips to help you teach a girl to respect and protect her body:

  • Let her practice handling some of her own health care. Before a doctor’s appointment, encourage her to write down any questions she has. You also can show her some info on how to get help from doctors.
  • Discuss coping skills for difficult situations. For example, help your girl practice what she might say if someone offers her drugs.
  • Help her develop a sense of consequences. Talk about the possible results of certain behaviors, like having sex or drinking alcohol.
  • Model the behaviors you want a girl to copy. Let your girl see you planning and cooking a healthy meal. Even better — do it together!
  • Set safety rules. Applaud positive behaviors, like wearing a bike helmet. Discuss any problems, but avoid any harsh criticisms and punishments that might only make her feel bad about herself.
  • Be loving and supportive. Have patience with things that may not seem important to you (like a pimple), but that seem very important to a teen.
  • Teach her not to be ashamed of having problems with weight, self-esteem, or other areas of her life. Encourage her to talk to you, a doctor, or another trusted adult.

Steady support

Don’t give up when you feel challenged or overwhelmed by raising a girl. Remember, you’re helping her become a confident, strong woman who knows how to take care of her health and her future.


Content last reviewed April 15, 2014
Page last updated June 02, 2014

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office on Women's Health.