Directing our Teen Daughters and Sons Towards Self-Love and Self-Acceptance

By Laura Cipullo, RD, CDCES, CEDRD-S

With the holidays abound and COVID-19 creating social distance, I am unfortunately seeing a rise in the number of young clients with eating disorders in our nutrition practice. Perhaps, our teens are home alone and relying more on social media which can cause them to become even more depressed and dependent on the dopamine fix created by the social media likes. Perhaps, some teens become obsessed with exercise while trying to stay healthy or sane staying in the same room all day. Or just the opposite, some teens become depressed, lay on the couch and graze on food all day. Eating can become a focus, but too much so. How do we as parents, teach our children to tolerate the discomfort, build self-esteem and self-acceptance during this chaotic time?

Most importantly, teach your teen to use their breath. Create a pause. Dharma teacher, Pema Chodron, recommends a “pause practice,” taking three conscious breaths whenever you or your teen feels stuck. This can allow yourself and your child to reconnect with the present moment. Teens can also learn Ujjayi breathing or Alternate Nostril breathing. There are many different types of breath-work that can lead an anxious mind and body to a chemical state of calm. Yoga is also an easy way to introduce different forms of breathing. For instance, when I teach yoga, I encourage Ujjayi breathing also known as belly breathing.

Next, encourage your teen to build their self-esteem and self-acceptance by guiding them to Ted Talks, books, and workbooks or journals that offer a balanced perspective, emotional space, pages to practice letting go and or concrete exercises to develop a healing toolbox.

Here are some of our favorite teen-friendly gifts to offer to your loved one:[/vc_column_text]

1. Brave, Not Perfect By Reshma Saujani

Read her book and listen to the Ted Talk.

We’re raising our girls to be perfect, and we’re raising our boys to be brave, says Reshma Saujani, the founder of Girls Who Code. Saujani has taken up the charge to socialize young girls to take risks and learn to program — two skills they need to move society forward. To truly innovate, we cannot leave behind half of our population, she says. “I need each of you to tell every young woman you know to be comfortable with imperfection.”

2. Burn After Writing (Pink) By Sharon Jones


The phenomenally popular secret journal filled with private prompts for personal reflection, self-exploration, and fueling creativity. Burn After Writing allows you to spend less time scrolling and more time self-reflecting. Through incisive questions and thought experiments, this journal helps you learn new things while letting others go. Imagine instead of publicly declaring your feelings for others, you privately declared your feelings for yourself?

3. Wreck This Journal Now in Color By Keri Smith


An unlikely journal helping your teen to think outside the box or color outside the lines.

4. Getting Over Overeating for Teens and or The Don’t Diet Live-It Workbook By Andrea Wachter, LMFT


Written for teens who struggle with overeating, binge eating or body image, Getting Over Overeating uses an integrated approach that includes mindfulness, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and intuitive eating. Parents and health professionals can also utilize the language and activities to help the adolescents they are concerned about. Readers will come to better understand the root causes of overeating and learn skills such as emotion regulation, assertive communication, moderate eating, and how to handle cravings. Most importantly, they will find healthier ways to fill up and apply what they’ve learned to live a happier and more balanced life.

4. The Self-Compassion Workbook for Teens: Mindfulness and Compassion Skills to Overcome Self Criticism and Embrace Who You Are By Karen Bluth PhD


Written by psychologist Karen Bluth and based on practices adapted from Kristin Neff and Christopher Germer’s Mindful Self-Compassion program, this workbook offers fun and tactile exercises grounded in mindfulness and self-compassion to help you cope more effectively with the ongoing challenges of day-to-day life. You’ll learn how to be present with difficult emotions, and respond to these emotions with greater kindness and self-care. By practicing these activities and meditations, you’ll learn specific tools to help you navigate the emotional ups and downs of the teen years with greater ease.

Shop books by Laura to tune in to the power of positive nutrition.