(Closed) How to talk to little girls (instilling self-worth beyond looks)

posted 7 years ago in Parenting
Post # 3
Member
3182 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: May 2012

Interesting article.  Like most people I don’t think of myself as sexist but I am sure on some level I do have a tendency to compliment girls on their clothes, hair etc. instead of other things.  I was listening to my best friends 7 year old go on the other day about how some guy (I think she “liked” him or something, I couldn’t keep up) was with some girl who was prettier than her and it made me realize how young girls are when they start worrying about that stuff.

ETA – also along the same lines of the article I hate when people always ask young children (kindergarten and up) if they have a boyfriend/girlfriend.  Even if you are just teasing them I think it can send the wrong message. 

Post # 4
Member
1686 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: August 2013

Good topic. +1

Post # 5
Member
117 posts
Blushing bee

I read that article too!  I had never thought about this, but it’s so true.  I’m a very academically-minded woman myself, but I still always want to tell little girls how adorable their hair, dresses, etc. are.  It’s really hard to squash that impulse.  I think the article’s suggestions are best – ask them about their interests, talk about books and compliment them on their intelligence and insight.  I’ll never forget my 2nd grade teacher telling me that I was such a great writer, I should write a book one day.  Those kind of compliments mean a lot to a child of any gender, and it’s a great way to remind girls that they’ve got strengths beyond their curls and their clothes.

Post # 6
Member
1091 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: August 2018 - Oakland Manor

Though everyone I know seems to have little boys, I read that article when it first came out and realized how much I do that to all kids. I think it’s super important to encourage girls to value themselves beyond their appearance. 

Post # 7
Member
6009 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: May 2009

That’s an interesting article.  I have a daughter, and I’m constantly thinking about helping her develop the self-confidence and independence she’ll need to succeed.

At the moment (she’s 15 months), my husband and I try really hard to be specific about our compliments and praise.  Not to say that we never tell her she’s beautiful or cute, but we try to point out exactly what she’s doing that deserves praise (e.g.  “You listened so well to mommy and daddy by sitting down when we asked.”  “You are strong!  I can’t believe you can carry that box all by yourself!” etc…).  Besides (hopefully) boosting her confidence, the positive reinforcement also helps a lot on the discipline front. 

Also, I’ve read that being specific reinforces positive behavior whereas non-specific praise is kinda lost on young kids.  For example, saying “you’re so smart!” is less effective in getting kids to do their schoolwork than praising their perseverance and hard work.

Post # 8
Member
1160 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: May 2011

Oh yeah, I remember reading that as well! It is great advice.

Post # 9
Member
1091 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: August 2018 - Oakland Manor

@Mrs. Spring: totally a side note, but I remember when you first announced your pregnancy… I can’t believe she’s 15 months now! Time really flies!

Post # 10
Member
1177 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: September 2013

That is really interesting!

My dad has always treated me like this. He’s never been the type to compliment whatever I’m wearing or how I look, except if I look exceptionally dressed up he’ll ask what I’m up to. He was always taking me to the playground growing up or teaching me how to do stuff on the computer and reading with me. He always talked to me about what’s going on in the world (even when I was annoyed and it was the last thing I wanted to talk about, lol) and treated me like an intelligent, respectable person.

And not to toot my own horn, but I think I’ve turned out pretty well. I should have my PhD when I’m 26 or 27 if things go as planned.  I’m sure it’s the result of someone having faith in me and treating me like I’m smart and capable of doing anything!

Post # 11
Member
3977 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: May 2011

That’s an interesting article.

It’s definitely easier to do with older girls. Easier to find non physical things that they’re interested in.

When a 4 year old comes up to you with giant curls and big eyes and frilly, sparkly clothes it’s hard to not let those things draw your attentio. But it’s completely true that I don’t remember ever saying, “Your shoes are so cute” to a 4 year old boy.

I agree that it is important though, when every person you meet centers their conversation with you around your physical characteristics, that can definitely change your perspective on yourself.

Post # 12
Member
3977 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: May 2011

@Natalieh86: I work with 7-10 year olds and it always freaks me out when they start talking about boys with any sort of seriousness. It’s all silly 8 year old drama, but the fact they’ve started so young to imitate what they think big kids do and say is frightening.

And I’m totally with you about people asking little kids about “boyfriends” or “girlfriends”. Even those shirts that say “Daddy is my boyfriend”. Totally wrong message.

I talked to my niece early on about how awesome college was, and how we’d travel together when she was older, and how some people never get married and that’s totally all right! And it bugs me that that message is seen as some form of “GIrl Power”. It’s not girl power, it’s the truth and it’s good and real. It doesn’t need a label.

Post # 13
Member
1686 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: August 2013

@kala_way:

I work with 7-10 year olds and it always freaks me out when they start talking about boys with any sort of seriousness.

As freaky as that is, it freaks me out so much more when they start talking about their diets. WTF.

Post # 14
Member
2701 posts
Sugar bee

I liked that article quite a bit.

I try to instill in my nieces both their mental and academic qualities, as well as their appearance. My mom always made me feel both smart and beautiful and I grew up without being teased or mocked because I wasn’t a weak and easy target.

I am a firm believer that if you teach your children that they are both smart and beautiful, then they will believe it even as they grow. It’s hard to get picked on or itemized when you’re smart enough to know otherwise.

The little girls who are not self-affirmed are often those who end up with eating disorders and low self-esteem. Not always, but often enough.

Post # 15
Member
3977 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: May 2011

@Elvis:so true! The boys don’t care about them at all for a few years, so it’s all play. But when they turn down snacks and then act superior to the girls who are happily eating their cookies, I have talks with mothers then!

Post # 16
Member
13096 posts
Honey Beekeeper
  • Wedding: July 2010

@Mrs.ChubbyBunny: “My mom always made me feel both smart and beautiful”

This.  Although obviously you don’t want to focus on just the looks/clothes/hair etc, it is still important for young girls and women to feel beautiful.

Admittedly, I haven’t read the article the OP posted.  But I think it is important to find a happy medium in building both confidence in abilities and skills and self-confidence in apperance.

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