Dawn Russell

Photo: Alex Sarginson

When Dawn Russell, a spokeswoman for The Estée Lauder Companies and former model, was diagnosed with stage 3 skin cancer in her 20s, she was forced to quickly deal with many difficult life challenges. Now, several years into her recovery, Dawn is using the skills she learned as a cancer survivor to empower young women—especially teenagers—who are struggling with the everyday pressures of their own lives. Dawn offers advice parents can use to mentor their daughter, improve her self-esteem and help her cope with the ups and downs of being a teen.
Teen soccer team

Photo: © 2009 Jupiterimages Corporation

2. Pinpoint a Passion
Help your daughter cultivate a passion, Dawn says. Most young girls need some kind of anchor—a sport, journaling or yoga—that they can turn to when life gets stressful, she says. "Then, they can go out and have the boy issues, and they have their anchor and core [to turn to] and they can stay true to themselves while they go out and dabble around in life," she says. 
Teen girl

Photo © 2009 Jupiterimages Corporation

3. Encourage Quiet Time and Meditation
If your daughter is getting ready for a big date or dance, encourage her to unplug before the event. Ask her to turn off her cell phone, computer and music and just relax and breathe. By letting her mind quiet down, Dawn says your daughter will have better control over her decision-making and emotions. "So when [she] walks out to that date with that boy, she can at least feel that she is herself," Dawn says.
Teen eating cereal

Photo: © 2009 Jupiterimages Corporation

4. Promote a Healthy Lifestyle
Don't just tell your daughter she should eat healthy and exercise. Instead, explain to her the mental and physical benefits of eating well and staying active, Dawn says. "Try making it a fun experiment for a week or weekend to see how [different] foods make you feel. Start with sugar and vegetables—promote it as a trial and record the results. There is little young women will not do to feel able, calm and in control," Dawn says.
Teen and her mother

Photo: © 2009 Jupiterimages Corporation

5. Hug Your Daughter Often
Girls often lash out at their parents during their teenage years. Instead of backing away from your daughter when she is behaving badly, embrace her, Dawn says. "Physically hug them," Dawn says. "Even if they slap you and walk away and reject you, [a hug] is what they need—unconditional love."
Teen and her mother

Photo: © 2009 Jupiterimages Corporation

6. Get to Know Her
You don't have to have a daily heart-to-heart with your daughter to get insight into her issues and problems, Dawn says. Instead, connect with her on something simple she's interested in, such as music or makeup. Let your daughter pick a weekly activity or class focused on her interests that you both can take together. Spend that time—at least two hours a week—focusing on your daughter and the task at hand. "She most likely won't acknowledge it, but it feeds her soul to know she was your universe for those two hours," Dawn says.

How to help girls with their body image  
The information provided here is for entertainment and informational purposes. You should consult your own physician before starting any treatment, diet or exercise program. The opinions expressed by the hosts, guests and callers to Oprah Radio are strictly their own.


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