Wednesday, January 19, 2011

I feel pretty, oh so pretty

A few months ago, I wrote a post about praising children. My friend Therese left this comment that has been some good brain fodder over the past few weeks: "IMO a girl likes to hear she's pretty every now and again."

I've been thinking about that a lot, and thinking about how I can help Beezus and Ramona to internally believe that they are pretty. For as much as I don't want it to matter to them, I think it will at some point, and I would rather have them believe that they are pretty than not.

So, I say it like this: "Beezus, you are so pretty and those hair clips look so nice in your hair." or "Ramona, you are so pretty and that dress makes you look fancy." I wanted to emphasize that it is they themselves who are pretty and the accessories are only an afterthought. I tend to only say it when they've chosen a fancy dress or carefully lined up 4-5 hairclips in their hair - I just don't think of it the other times.

I'm not sure if it is "right" or "wrong" but it sort of makes sense to me.

7 comments:

Laurie said...

I remember being with a friend once when someone said to her that she was very pretty. Her reply "that's not the most important thing about me." I have never forgotten that. I'm not even sure what it means to me fully but it was a pretty deep thing to say.

Elaine said...

A few days ago, Helen lamented that she had forgotten to put on her make-up before we went skating. I asked her why she needed it and she said it would make her look more pretty. MY DAUGHTER THINKS YOU NEED MAKE-UP TO BE PRETTY?!? I sat in the front seat of the car and said "Helen, I'm beautiful, and I'm not wearing any make-up at all".

And I definitely agree with Therese here. It's nice to hear you're pretty.

Therese said...

I think they should definitely feel pretty without the accessories but it's good that you compliment their taste in dress. And I know you know it's not the most important part.

When I lived in Italy, all the children were told they were beautiful and even the plainest of girl grows up and believes it. It shows in how they take care of themselves. They go too far in one way when it comes to fashion but somewhere in between there has to be an ideal.

(Not) Maud said...

What about boys? Shouldn't we tell them they're handsome? I do tell my son that, but he doesn't like hearing it these days. (He's 4.)

I'm not sure why I feel that telling a girl she's pretty isn't the exact right way to go about it - maybe something to do with what Laurie said. But I love to hear Therese's comment about Italian girls. ... So many nuances, so much to think about.

AwwwTrouble said...

this post kind of makes me a little bit sad. I think the end goal is to make kids feel good about themselves, btu not to make them feel like you only praise them for external things. SO not to just say they're smart or they're pretty, btu to also say they did well because they worked hard or did a good job or whatever. But somehow have we overthought this so we can't tell our children how intrinsically beautiful they are, inside and out?

I mostly tell E she is pretty in cuddle times - hold her close, stroke her hair or back, and mummur my beautiful, beautiful girl, because that comes from the heart. She is my beautiful girl, and I want her to know that. I also want her to know she's stylish or fancy and I like the crazy way she puts together outfits or that she's just simply pretty no matter what she's doing. And I do the same with Andrew, too, though he's usually my handsome little guy. As long as they know it's not the only thing, I think it's one of many great compliments that can be paid to them. And then you end up as an adult confidently saying, like Elaine, I am beautiful. Everyone should know they are beautiful.

Moderate Means said...

I really struggle with this, too. I want Sparkle to feel good about herself and I want to proactively circumvent the society's push toward being super skinny and all of the make up and hair care that comes with it. I want her to be comfortable and happy in her own skin. For us, it's not so much a "beauty" thing but a weight thing. I want her to be healthy but not fixated. And, with the diabetes and insulin comes a struggle with weight...and then there are my genes :( She asked me a few weeks ago if she was fat. I remembered reading that denial isn't the right answer because the child needs validation that they perceive themselves correctly but they need that understanding that people are all shapes and sizes. I paused, said, "Why? Do you think you're fat?" and she said, "Yes." After my mommy heart broke, I asked why and she said it was because her hands didn't fit around her waist. I know!!! How random and odd?! I explained that no one's does and she said, "Oh! I didn't know that!" and skipped off, happy as a clam. We had another discussion last week when the kids realized Sparkle weighs more than Monkey, even though he's older and taller. They decided that he must have lighter bones and both were fine but I was holding my breath. Self-esteem and young girls is such a tricky issue...

Vickie said...

I grew up being told to my face that I was nothing special next to my cousins. One time a complete stranger said I was Black Beauty next to them!!! It never thought of myself as pretty until high school. I did know I was smart, though, and that was really important to me. But on the whole I think I would've liked to know that I was loved just for being myself, regardless of how I looked or how smart I was--something I didn't have.

 
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