teaching toddler girls self esteem? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 18 Old 09-10-2012, 05:55 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I keep catching myself telling my daughter how cute and beautiful i think she is all of the time. I can't help it! She truly is amazingly beautiful. But after i say it i wonder if i am maybe focusing on it to much? Do you think it is possible to tell someone they are beautiful or cute to much? I do tell her other things, like she is clever, so smart, silly or funny too. Also i catch myself doing things like the other day i gave her some sticker earrings (i loved those things as a kid!!) and i said something like "aww, now you look so pretty!!" after she put them on and we were looking in the mirror at them. Then i thought- jezz, does she realize that she is beautiful even without the earrings? I don't want to accidentally teach her that she needs to dress a certain way etc to be beautiful. What are your thoughts on this? FYI my daughter is 2.5 and is totally in love with dresses, pink and "girly" things.

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#2 of 18 Old 09-10-2012, 07:13 PM
 
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This made me think of a picture I saw on Facebook the other day.  I can't figure out how to link the image, so go to Google Images and type "mind your adjectives" to see what I'm talking about.  

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#3 of 18 Old 09-10-2012, 07:33 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by ThreeTwoFive View Post

This made me think of a picture I saw on Facebook the other day.  I can't figure out how to link the image, so go to Google Images and type "mind your adjectives" to see what I'm talking about.  


Love it! :)

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#4 of 18 Old 09-11-2012, 11:14 AM
 
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I have a 24 mo DD who I am really careful not to push "girlie" things on. I tell her she is cool, and smart, and that she makes good decisions and that I love her, but when it comes to looks and such I just seem to naturally keep it at a minimum. I'm not a typical girl, and dont want her to a princess so that is probably why I act more "boy-like" around her. My nieces are princesses because their mom wanted them to be. Now they are super into looks and worried about clothes and such. I honestly see it just becoming more and more as they get older. if you want your DD to be a person like that then no worries, it's going to probably happen, but if you dont then I'd say think about toning it down now while it's not quite setting in.

 

Just my two cents, one way isnt any better than the other.
 

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#5 of 18 Old 09-11-2012, 11:30 AM
 
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I mentioned to a friend that I wanted my newborn DD to be strong and confident and not judge herself and others on their appearance.  She told me how she had felt the same way and never said anything to her DD related to how she looked.  Fast forward 16 years and at her graduation my friend told her daughter how beautiful she looked and her DD started crying because she didn't think her mother thought she was pretty because she never said so.  That still brings tears to my eyes. 

 

I think telling her she's beautiful and cute is appropriate because she is those things, but also that she's strong, funny, smart, kind, etc. because she's all those things too. 


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Mama to F (3/09) and S (3/11); and never forgetting my babe gone too soon angel1.gif(4/10).

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#6 of 18 Old 09-11-2012, 11:46 AM
 
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I like to tell dd she is pretty and beautiful all the time. I think girls need to hear that.

 

Dd is not  into clothes and hates it when I try to comb her hear, so we keep it short. But still likes to put her brother's costumes on (Thomas the train, Batman) or a dress, and likes to be admired.


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#7 of 18 Old 09-11-2012, 11:54 AM
 
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I'm a person who was never told I was pretty or beautiful or cute by either parent.  I wasn't to be allowed Barbies or any toy makeup, I wasn't allowed to pick my own clothing, my parents thought this would protect me from the social mandate that I be "beautiful" and maybe nothing else.  I did hear positive things from my parents about my brothers' appearances.  As a consequence I was and to some extent still am obsessed with my looks.  I can't think of a time when either parent told me I was pretty, and when my husband tells me, I appreciate it, but I frankly don't believe him.  After all, if my own mother doesn't find me beautiful, how can anyone else honestly find me so?  I won't tell you what to do with your child, but I wanted to share my experience with the concept that children shouldn't be complimented on or praised for their appearance.

For what it's worth, I tell my almost 12-month old that she is smart, brave, sweet, silly, loved... and yes, very beautiful.


lovestory.gif   And on 09/23/2011, we were three;  husband, daughter, and me!

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#8 of 18 Old 09-11-2012, 09:34 PM
 
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I'm a person who was never told I was pretty or beautiful or cute by either parent.  I wasn't to be allowed Barbies or any toy makeup, I wasn't allowed to pick my own clothing, my parents thought this would protect me from the social mandate that I be "beautiful" and maybe nothing else.  I did hear positive things from my parents about my brothers' appearances.  As a consequence I was and to some extent still am obsessed with my looks.  I can't think of a time when either parent told me I was pretty, and when my husband tells me, I appreciate it, but I frankly don't believe him.  After all, if my own mother doesn't find me beautiful, how can anyone else honestly find me so?  I won't tell you what to do with your child, but I wanted to share my experience with the concept that children shouldn't be complimented on or praised for their appearance.

For what it's worth, I tell my almost 12-month old that she is smart, brave, sweet, silly, loved... and yes, very beautiful.


This made me sad Mrs.G.  You're clearly a beauty given how stunning your daughter is.  I'm glad that you're telling her that....all girls need to hear how beautiful they are from their mamas.


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Mama to F (3/09) and S (3/11); and never forgetting my babe gone too soon angel1.gif(4/10).

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#9 of 18 Old 09-11-2012, 10:22 PM
 
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"You look so happy!" is a good one, if you want to mix it up when appropriate.  :-)  I use that when I'm taking photos of girls playing dress up at my son's preschool, when they're showing of their outfits and beaming, and it seems to go over well.  And remember you can do a lot with your tone of voice, injecting how beautiful you think they are into a statement of fact.  I do that a lot with injecting a "good job!" tone into talking about what my son specifically did.  But, of course, it's nice to hear that you're beautiful and cute, too, so I wouldn't not say that here and there.  Maybe you could focus slightly more on complimenting her style choices?  Then that hits both beauty and creativity.

 

I think you're on to something with trying to avoid things like "now you look so pretty," though.  Sometimes I think they don't remember much from the first few years just so parents have a chance to figure out how to talk to them!


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#10 of 18 Old 09-12-2012, 12:29 PM
 
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hug2.gif  Thank you crayfishgirl!  I'm sorry I made you sad... I didn't mean to!  My Little Miss - she's something, huh?  I can't imagine never telling her how perfectly lovely I find her, but honestly it's easy for me to find other things to compliment her on as she doesn't care about being pretty but is visibly proud of herself when she, say, climbs a chair.  So I take her lead in that regard. 
 


lovestory.gif   And on 09/23/2011, we were three;  husband, daughter, and me!

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#11 of 18 Old 09-12-2012, 01:05 PM
 
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If you have multiple children, be careful not to have "the pretty one", "the smart one", etc. Maybe folks don't do that anymore, but I was raised with that. It wasn't until I started looking older that I looked at myself and thought "I was pretty when I was young". Oh, well.

Just let the complements flow as seems appropriate. You are aware, and that's a big part of it. Value all the parts of each child and self esteem has a chance. The next thing to notice when the child has self-pride, and agree with that pride.
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#12 of 18 Old 09-13-2012, 09:36 AM
 
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Oh wow, this thread has really helped me decide how to handle this with my 2.5 yr old DD too. Thank you to the moms who shared their childhood experiences! I have been worried to say the cute, pretty thing too much too (i make sure to tell her how kind, helpful and smart she is when appropriate too!) but this has made me feel better about addressing beauty.

I google searched the "mind your adjectives" thing and liked that... I think i will lean on the word beautiful instead of cute or pretty.... There is something pure and wholesome about beautiful while pretty or cute feels a bit more 'trendy' and narrow. Hairstyles are cute, clothes are cute, manicures are cute. But beauty is everything about a person inclusive of looks and personality. Think of how beauty is used in language... Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Beauty comes from within. I want my daughter to think of herself as beautiful.
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#13 of 18 Old 09-13-2012, 12:44 PM
 
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This is a really interesting thread. I have three girls ages 15yrs, 9yrs and 17months. I always made sure that my girls knew that I thought they were pretty. However I placed a huge emphasis on success in other areas as being far more important. Academics, sports, art and so on. I made darn sure that they knew that personal development was the key to happiness not hair dye. My oldest daughter, who I of course think is a knock-out, is a senior girl scout, she is a senator in her student government association, she runs track, and has straight 'A's. Excuse the proud mom for bragging.

DD and her good friend.

 

I always tell her she looks great when she gets dressed up for an event like homecoming and I tell her that it is awesome that she got elected at school. Oh but I digress this is about toddlers. Anyway I have always said cute to all my girls. I actually use cute more to describe what they are doing. Oh DD is giving her brother a hug to make him feel better, that is so cute! Just be well rounded and saying cute won't hurt a thing smile.gif I also like to call my 17month old a smart tart LOL

 

I think problems occur when parents only emphasize physical beauty or go to the other extreme and don't acknowledge appearance at all.

 

Mrs.G I am glad that even though your parents actions hurt you, you were still able to see that they meant well.


~Patti~ rainbow1284.gifMomma to three girls and three boys chicken3.gif, First mother to one girl triadadopt.jpg

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#14 of 18 Old 09-16-2012, 07:52 AM
 
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Originally Posted by pattimomma View Post

I think problems occur when parents only emphasize physical beauty or go to the other extreme and don't acknowledge appearance at all.

 

I agree with this 100%! 

 

pattimomma, if you don't mind me using your beautiful daughter as an example:  She's got the most magical smile - it lights up her whole face!  Of course I'd tell her she's beautiful overall, but I'd also make a point to pick features that will stand the test of time, such as telling her that she has a gracious, bright smile.  

This is what I hope to do for my daughter - acknowledge her physical appearance and tell her things about it that will still ring true when she's 90, and her face has gone to a mass of wrinkles.  The other traits I praise will be with her for a lifetime, so why not the physical aspects too?

pattimomma and AnnaBees Mama like this.

lovestory.gif   And on 09/23/2011, we were three;  husband, daughter, and me!

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#15 of 18 Old 09-16-2012, 12:08 PM
 
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This is what I hope to do for my daughter - acknowledge her physical appearance and tell her things about it that will still ring true when she's 90, and her face has gone to a mass of wrinkles.  The other traits I praise will be with her for a lifetime, so why not the physical aspects too?

 

I love this!


Cloud, mommy to her happy little Nimbus, born 11/09!
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#16 of 18 Old 09-17-2012, 04:12 PM
 
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I worry about this, too.  My daughter's a redhead, so practically everywhere we go people stop us and say "Oh, look at that red hair!!!  It's gorgeous!!!"  I can't stop people from saying it and her from hearing it, but I worry about how it's affecting her perception of herself.  People will gush over her hair even no matter what, even if she's just said something amazing (which she does ALL the time) or if she's screaming and having a fit.  People can't seem to see the beautiful little girl she is PAST that darned red hair.  I call her beautiful, but to me it means something far different and deeper.  I hope she can see that. 
 

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#17 of 18 Old 09-25-2012, 08:49 PM
 
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My parents basically never told me I was cute, beautiful, etc and I am so very thankful for it now! Once when I was about 5 years old I asked "am I ugly?" because I think other little kids were teasing me and my mom told me "of course not, you are beautiful! But what you look like isn't important anyway" and after that I never really thought about it or cared.

 

I think in Jr High/High School when I got dressed up for dances a few times I was told how nice I looked, and I do like being at least relatively attractive, but I am so glad that I was taught not to focus on looks or that it isn't one of my best or most important features. I think that is the major problem with telling little girls they are beautiful all the time is that they think that is the only value they have or that being beautiful is somehow important or makes them better than people who aren't all that good-looking. After all, typical youthful "beauty" is a very temporary state of being for most people and it is much more important to be kind, thoughtful, intelligent, strong, brave, fun, funny, and so many other qualities. And think about how much your little girls are probably already hearing how cute/beautiful they are from other people! Even though you might remember to tell them they are smart or strong sometimes, I bet that 99% of the compliments given to them are somehow related to how they look, and that has to have some affect.

 

Of course its nice to think of oneself as good-loooking, but I am so so so glad that how I think of myself isn't very dependent on my looks. And I think I can be fairly objective about how I look in comparison to other people, and know that ultimately that isn't why people like me or love me, and not what determines how likeable or loveable I am. And there is a lot more to being attractive than just being stereotypically beautiful. 

 

I really like this article How to Talk to Little Girls

and Please Don't Tell my Little Girl She's Pretty

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#18 of 18 Old 09-26-2012, 10:40 AM
 
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Well, obviously outer beauty is should not be the sole support for a healthy self-esteem.  From what I've read, its mastery that develops self-esteem -- surmounting challenges (and learning how to address failure) is key.

 

So, if you're worried about developing self-esteem, I would be focusing on giving opportunities to overcome challenges (and encouraging the child to take them). 

 

If the child fails, from what I've read the response should be to be warmly encouraging and suggest different ways that they might be able to approach the challenge differently next time rather than in any way indicating that the failure arises from their character.  For example, a child should be encouraged towards the belief that they can somersault if they practice enough, rather than "they just aren't good at gymastics". 

 

Where the development of a healthy self-esteem in other areas is encouraged, I don't think the sort of compliments the OP speaks about should be troubling at all.


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