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How to Encourage Modesty in Girls

Updated on October 28, 2008

With role models flashing just about everything as they exit limos to hit the club scene, how do we impress upon our girls that this is Not Cool without coming across as completely un-cool ourselves? It's a dilemma worth puzzling over.

Did you know you can buy thong underwear for pre-teens now? Huh? We need to learn how to woo our girls to our way of thinking rather than presenting the Just Say No approach. Here are some things to think about if you want to convince your daughters to cover up.

Other Ways to Encourage Modest Dress

  • Find Great Role Models: Encourage relationships with older girls who portray what you'd like to see your daughter emulate. Of course this is not going to work every time, but it's worth a try.
  • Un-Frumpify Yourself: Your daughter is more likely to take your advice if you don't look like the mom off an eighties sit-com. She'll model style naturally if you've got some!
  • Don't Nag: Pick a stance and stick with it, but don't peck away at every little choice she makes. Otherwise you run the risk of pushing her away completely.
  • Point Out Examples: You can observe both good and bad examples in the media and around town. Ask questions about what the clothing you see says or seems to say about the girl wearing it. Get a discussion going.
  • Offer fashionable options.

Get Honest

Some of the problem may be in the fact that we are so afraid to discuss any matters of sex with our children. Does your fourteen-year-old daughter understand why you don't want her showing her belly at the mall in front of leering men? If we don't explain our reasoning to them, kids are much less likely to put any stock into anything we have to say. You don't want to scare her, but she needs to comprehend the real dangers of presenting herself in an immodest way. If she's old enough to have breasts, you need to teach her about them, including the part about boys and men being obsessed with them!

Is She Getting Enough Attention?

Make sure she gets the right kind of attention at home and your daughter will be less likely to seek it out from strangers on the street. Specifically, does Dad value her? Is she complimented on traits other than her looks? Is she encouraged to pursue her own interests regardless of what other kids are up to? Does she feel comfortable coming to parents or other adult role models when she's upset, confused, or hurt?

We need to explain to our girls that true confidence comes from inside out and there's no reason to bring on cheap attention by dressing provocatively. The problem in some cases may simply be that our girls don't know what appropriate dress is. The girls on TV wear practically nothing, so why can't they?

Choose Your Battles

Truth is, time marches on without us. If ideas about modesty never changed, we'd still be swimming in full body suits. There is nothing inherently wrong about the human body, and sexual impulse is as natural as breathing. If we're open and honest with out daughters, they may just listen to us.


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