Taking pride in your appearance isn’t a bad thing – it can help you in the workplace and give you more confidence. But sometimes children’s focus on their looks zooms past showing concern about it and heads right into conceited territory.
How do you walk that fine line between teaching children about having pride in their appearance and focusing too much on it?
Let Her Get Dirty
Kids aren’t dolls. They are supposed to play and their clothes should get dirty sometimes. Always dressing your child in fancy clothes and then coming down on her when she gets a speck of dirt on them will put too much emphasis on her appearance. Pretty soon, she might believe her job is to sit there and look clean and pretty instead of exploring the world around her and testing her limits.
Don’t Comment on Other Kids’ Looks
If you make unkind comments about another kid’s appearance, she’ll learn two things from you – that you think it’s okay to tear down other kids, and that looks are of key importance to you and that they should be to her as well.
Watch Your Own Actions
It’s fine to let your child see you doing your hair in the morning, selecting your outfit and putting on your make-up. Those types of activities will teach her that it’s good to have pride in her appearance. But if you get too carried away with it by constantly checking yourself out in the mirror or spending a lot of your time each day on your looks, she’ll pick up on that and adopt some of those habits herself.
Don’t Be a Brand Snob
To stop conceit before it’s had a chance to begin, look at your own values. If you’re a clotheshorse who ridicules anyone who shops at Walmart, chances are your child will pick up on that and share that mindset.
Find Things to do Besides Shopping
If shopping is your favorite recreational activity, you could be setting your child up for a lifetime of conceit, especially if you take her with you all the time. Find activities that work on her character or talents, and spend time with her doing those things.
Compliment Things Other Than Her Looks
It’s natural to think your child is the most beautiful child in the world. To you, she is. And it’s okay to tell her that you think she’s beautiful. But that compliment should also be followed up with a compliment about her behavior, personality or talent.
If you love how focused she is while playing sports, tell her that. If you’re proud of her for being kind to her playmate, mention that first. Soon she’ll start realizing her actions and character are far more important than her looks.
Shannon Serpette is a mother of two and an award-winning journalist and freelancer who lives in Illinois. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.