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Getting a kid to care how they look with out getting them to judge others?

I am trying very hard right now to get my 8 year old to care what she looks like when she goes to school. I am not talking picture perfect every hair in place. I am talking brushing your teeth for at least a full min, getting all the tangles out of your hair not just those that don't hurt to brush out, and leaving the play pants at home and wearing jeans or something along those lines to school. How do you teach them that they need to care about how they look because others will judge them on it with out teaching them to judge others? I do not want her to get made fun of because she does not groom herself properly or because she tries to wear her ratty play clothes to school, but I do not want her to be making fun of other kids either.

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Asked by Anonymous at 8:11 AM on Mar. 16, 2011 in Parenting Debate

Answers (14)
  • I always told my kids straight up that people are mean, and unless they want others to think they are orphans then they need to do as I say and wear what I think is right, comb their hair and brush their teeth. The teeth was easy, I told them unless they wanted to go to the dentist and get cavities filled they needed to brush. Hair with my boys honestly didnt take for awhile, boys are boys. The girls I did their hair from the time they had hair, so it was very normal and expected once school started. I also always dressed them nicely as toddlers so again when school started no big deal.

    Answer by gemgem at 8:15 AM on Mar. 16, 2011

  • She should want to look presentable for her own self-esteem.

    Answer by meooma at 8:25 AM on Mar. 16, 2011

  • I would talk to her about how to take care of herself. It isn't about look good, it is about caring for herself. If you don't brush 2 min 2 x a day you will have bed breathe and cavities (see if a dentist will talk to her, have her pick a song and brush till the end, a timer, an electric toothbrush)
    Brushing the hair, I don't give my daughter a choice either she brushes it or I do (she prefers to brush) Have her pick out some cute hair ties that she likes and tell her if she brushes her hair she can wear them. (Let her go nuts but put a limit on the total $ amount)
    I would help her pick out appropriate cloths the night before so it isn't a fight the next morning. Also talk to her about what is school cloths and what is play cloths and how when you are school it is like a job and you can't go in play cloths just like x person doesn't when going to work. And she can change right after school if that helps. GL

    Answer by DevilInPigtails at 8:33 AM on Mar. 16, 2011

  • I have always dressed all my kids nice even their raggedy play clothes are not that bad, but want her to stop trying to wear sweats to school. And I think at 8 she should be getting better at these things so I do not have to stand over her. This just really gets me because I came from a poor family and all my clothes where in horrible shape and I was made fun of to no end. I would have done anything not to get picked on like that, and have made sure my kids have the clothing and tools to look nice.

    Thanks for the ideas ladies and for not bashing.


    Comment by Anonymous (original poster) at 8:49 AM on Mar. 16, 2011

  • MY 16 year old SS got in the habit of sleeping in his clothes so he could just wake up a couple seconds before the bus ran. No teeth bushing, no hair combing, no deodorant. I tried talking to him, but he wouldn't listen. After a couple weeks, he started waking up earlier to dress correctly. Apparently the kids at school got through to him after they all banded together to let him know his stench would not be tolerated by them.


    Answer by Mammaw0604 at 8:49 AM on Mar. 16, 2011

  • One other thing you can do is do away with play clothes. Well not completely, but make her think you have. I keep my dds play clothes in a storage bin in my room.

    Answer by gemgem at 8:57 AM on Mar. 16, 2011

  • I totally understand your dilemma, OP. I have struggled with the same thing with my daughters, just not in relation to clothes. For us, it's more about diet and exercise habits and not being chubby. I have raised my daughters--now 7 & 9--on mostly healthy food and have emphasized exercise and good dietary habits for HEALTH reasons, so as not to place too much emphasis on appearances. We've always talked extensively about how to tell healthy foods from junk foods, and what makes junk food junky (sugars, trans fats, etc). When my kids went to school, they were shocked by the dietary habits of their classmates--eating nothing but chips and twinkies for lunch, kids who will NOT drink water (only soda or kool aid), stuff like that. I have just told them that we're not going to talk about what other people are eating, that if their moms are ok with those foods, that's their business, but that's not how WE are going to eat.

    Answer by vicesix at 9:55 AM on Mar. 16, 2011

  • I think you can do the same with your daughter...just tell her that you and she aren't going to talk about what other people wear or how they do or don't comb their hair or brush their teeth, but that for YOUR family, you all have set some general hygiene and dress standards. That's how I've done it--just stuck to the "we're not going to talk about other people, we're just going to focus on US" line and it's worked pretty well thus far. Neither of my girls talks trash about other kids, and if they do start talking about (you're not going to believe what so-and-so brought for lunch!), I cut it off pretty quickly by saying something like "Well, that's too bad that he didn't have any veggies at all. Hopefully he'll have some with his dinner. But let's mind our own business about the lunches, okay?"

    Answer by vicesix at 9:55 AM on Mar. 16, 2011

  • I used the "You can't control what others do but you can control what you do" argument with my six-year-old. I also capitalized on her interest in the television program "What Not To Wear" to help her learn how to choose appropriate school outfits by herself. Now that she's more in control of what she wears, she cares about it more.

    Answer by Fistandantalus at 10:22 AM on Mar. 16, 2011

  • Teeth brushing should be non-negotiable. Talk to her about cavities and the like.
    On the hair, if she doesn't want to brush it, I would talk to her about cutting it in a cute short style that wouldn't tangle so much.
    As for clothes, I would talk to her about the importance of the impression you make on others and about working hard to have nice things and appreciating those nice things.
    Bottom line, I think it is a self-esteem issue though. Maybe you need to talk about loving yourself and pampering yourself? That she is beautiful?

    Answer by Mom2Just1Kiddo at 10:46 AM on Mar. 16, 2011

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