Post # 1
Hi, WeddingBee! I haven’t posted in a month or so – but I thought I’d ask you fellow Bees about this – it needs womens’ perspective and I’d feel silly asking my girlfriends. Hope you don’t mind. 🙂
My daughter is five and a half years old, and she’s an uncommonly pretty child. Long, curly blonde-streaked hair, striking green eyes, etc. I’m not saying that because I dress her up in girly clothes and parade her from ballet class to beauty contests (far from it – she does soccer and Tae Kwon Do) – I’m saying it because I’m concerned about it going to her head already. Since she was two or so, strangers have routinely approached me to say how cute/beautiful/adorable (fill in the blank) she is. Just last weekend, we were walking down the sidewalk together, and overheard strangers passing us say, “what a gorgeous child” – and my daughter immediately turned to me and said, “they’re talking about me, Mommy, because I’m so cute.”
She’s otherwise a fairly grounded child and does well in school, but I don’t want to raise a daughter whose self-worth is so tied up in her looks. And I don’t know what to do because that was so not an issue for me – I was the fair skinned, dark haired nerdy girl with glasses and braces. The one who was president of debate team and on the “Academic Bowl” team – not the head cheerleader.
Any advice? Thanks in advance (I’m probably worrying for nothing at this point, right?)
Post # 3
I don’t have children of my own, but work with kids of all ages…I think if she were to say something like that to you again, you can say yes, you are pretty sweetie, but that’s not the most important thing in life and give examples of things that ARE important. Getting good grades, treating others with respect, whatever you believe is important for her!
It’s probably nothing to worry about since she is so young – Just as an example of myself…I’m half chinese, half caucasian. I have an eye colour that I have rarely seen on other people – blue rims, with green, and yellow inside, and orange flecks – and I always get compliments. I remember as a kid people asking me if my eyes were contacts…Hello!? I’m 5!! haha but anyawy, my point is, yes I got a lot of compliments, but I think of myself as a well rounded person who isn’t into my looks AT ALL. I have never worn makeup, hate doing my hair, and don’t really care about fashion!! I just say thank you, and carry on. So I think if you tell your daughter to appreciate the comments, but then continue on with her own interests, she won’t let it get to her head.
Post # 4
i think a lot of children are often praised on their looks, and it does send a message that looks are important. you can praise her on other things (along with looks b/c it’s important to have a good well rounded self-esteem), but focus mainly on her talents and brains.
Post # 5
I’d say not only to praise your child for nonphysical things…but also make sure to comment on others…like how kind, thoughtful, intelligent others are…instead of always saying “great skirt” “I like your haircut” only…I think our whole culture is guilty of this, tho
Post # 6
I might also encourage your daughter to always thank people for complimenting her, as it might subtly counteract this creeping sense of entitlement that I think you’re picking up on. I would also just try to minimize talking about it with her, and pulling from my child psych background here I think one of the more corrosive effects of this kind of unsolicited praise is that it’s not really as great for self esteem as when a child is praised for something he or she genuinely did well (and being born beautiful is unfortunately not an actual accomplishment).