How do you teach your daughters to ignore the media and know they are perfect as they are?
In today's society, there is so much around us that says you have to look a certain way. What methods do you use for instilling a sense of self-confidence, beauty, and achievement in your young children? How do you get them to ignore the media and appreciate who they are and what they look like?
There are a few people in media today that don't put president on looks. Find out who your daughters are paying the most attention to in the media. Find out that celebrity's hobbies, interests and other activities that can relate to other things then just looks. Get your child interested in the good stuff people do. I always say that if your really beautiful then it comes out from with in. If your Kim Kardashian then your heart has been replaced by money and your looks came from so much plastic surgery that some day she'll look like Joan Rivers.
I recently read an article on something like this. It's best to focus on how you conversate with your child and what you emphasize as important. Instead of complimenting their hair or clothing (although self-esteem can stem from these types of praises), compliment their previous accomplishments such as the 'A' they made on their test last week, or the quick way they figured out the solution to a problem. Compliment their cooking, or their art work. Encourage hobbies and ask questions that showcase their strong points, even if you already know the answer. For instance, if your child is interested in dinosaurs, do a little research. Help them expand on that knowledge. If they're interested in knitting, request that they make you a scarf, and offer to take them out and get supplies. Play into their talents, show them what you value from them.
They'll never be able to fully ignore the media, but that is not the point. The point is to help them understand that their value is more in the mind and spirit than in the body. This is not something you can just tell them and move on. It's an everyday way of portraying yourself as an example that makes the biggest impact. If they say something intelligent to you, help them expound upon it. Show pride in their curiosity. Try to answer their questions as honestly and fully as you feel comfortable with, and show interest in their intellectual value. Use as many references to intellect as possible and phrase questions to them in ways that facilitate intelligent discussions. Don't make them feel stupid. When you're watching a movie together, comment and focus on the more academic aspects. For instance, questions about the formation and filming of the movie or comments on the spectacular wordage will go farther towards this goal than commenting on acting abilities and clothing.
As far as avoiding media pressure when out shopping for clothing, just let it go. Every kid wants to be cool. Kids are trying to find their individuality, you just have to help them understand that it's okay to portray yourself in a healthy and stunning way but it's more important to portray your intelligence than anything else. A girl can be the prettiest person in the world, but when she opens her mouth she can ruin it all if she doesn't have the smarts and confidence to back it up.
My daughter watches very little TV and what she does watch is generally educational, like documentaries, etc. So her exposure to this kind of media is extremely limited. We've also emphasized health and eating properly which will inevitably keep the body in peak condition. We try to be more spiritual and health oriented, rather than centered around the TV.
I am not sure how, but my daughter has become a rebel. She was bullied because she was different in elementary by the popular girls. Anything they liked, she has rebelled against. She doesn't like to dress like a tramp, because everyone does it. Now she is home schooled and her friends are the ones that liked her then, the other rebels. She likes herself.
I think it is important to stress good grooming and health. A young girl who is well-groomed IS beautiful just as she is. As far as examples of beauty in the media, I always point out that with all of the photo manipulation available--we never really know WHAT someone looks like.
Looking your best is important, but it's what kind of person you are that really matters. Teaching empathy is crucial for this. So many people live their lives oblivious to how their actions hurt others.
I think that believing in your children and giving them unconditional love is the key raising caring and confident young ladies.
The hardest part to accept is that girls are likely going to be influenced by what they see--and more importantly, what their peers are doing--no matter how much you praise their achievements, surround them with people who have solid self-esteem and keep them active so that they understand a body's functions and the importance of being strong and healthy. Sometimes we don't realize we're modeling negative messages through our diets, for example, or our own self-image (if you don't like yourself, your daughter will start picking herself apart, too).
My daughter is studying ballet fairly seriously; naturally I was concerned that body weight was going to become an issue and she'd worry about being "too fat". I just keep saying how different girls have different shapes, some have spines that arch just as others can do splits in both directions, etc. I try to use stories that illustrate acceptance and courage; finally I just tell her I understand that she wishes her legs were longer, her hair were blonder, etc., but that she would continue to change and appreciate what she's capable of doing. I used to wish I had what other girls had, but what I didn't know was that they were wishing the same thing about me.
Keep at it. Your daughter will hear it. I'm also fortunate that my daughter's school is doing a session on media literacy and how imagery affects self-image. And this might surprise some people, but American Girl has an excellent series of books on every issue a girl might face in her pre-adolescent and adolescent years. My daughter often refers to the Body Book, which is laid out in chapters according to developmental stages; there are also books on dealing with conflicts between friends, dealing with a parent's divorce, understanding how different relationships have different meanings, etc. Two thumbs up!
I constantly remind my daughter that she is beautiful just the way she is, both inside and out. It seems as if the media continues to portray to our young girls that they need to wear a certain style of clothing, have their hair fixed in a certain way or be a certain weight in order to feel good about themselves. It's fine to want to be neatly groomed and to be of a healthy weight. With all the reality shows on television, no wonder our teenage girls feel pressured into being this way. To me, all these things are superficial and give our young ladies false hopes. Sometimes, young girls feel that they don't measure up to society's standards of how they should look. They give our girls a sense of low self esteem which causes them to be in constant competition with each other to see who is better than the other; and that is not healthy. Yes my daughter often reminds me that she wants to keep up with the latest fashions, but I constantly remind her that it is not what is on the outside that counts, it's how you are on the inside that really matter. Her inner beauty is all I see. I want my daughter to look in the mirror and say "I love me".
That could be hard for kids who are being influenced by their peers. I have found that the best way of instilling a sense of self-confidence in my kids is to have and live it myself. I share stories with them about growing up, about temptations, triumphs and failures along the way. I tell my kids they are beautiful but I do not overdo it. I read them books about people who may have had problems with their image and teach them that they are just what God wants them to be and they will be great women. They are all in their unique ways on their way to being great women. Besides that, I have always prayed that they would be world changers and they have heard me do that since they were kids and they know it.
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