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How do we teach confidence without creating vanity?

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We've been on holiday vacation, visiting family and, probably daily, my kiddo has heard how cute she is...from friends of my parents to folks at the store to flight attendants. It is just something we say to little kids, right? But what is that teaching her?

It's tough. In some ways, I think being vain is in all of us, and, as I teach my kiddo to be confident, it is a blurry line between being confident and being vain. I want her to believe in herself and think of herself as beautiful in every single way - because she is pretty in her own right...and also because she has a beautiful mind and chooses to be a beautiful and kind friend.

There's no right answer here, folks. We only attempt to do the best we can. (Insert big Mama sigh). It's a tall order. Our kids see images every day about what is the "ideal" form of beauty (how many times have we had the whole Barbie debate or discussed the idea that boys have to be athletic and tall to be "cute"). I love the Dove beauty campaign, what they are trying to do about girls' esteem. They had interesting hints on teaching our kids how to be confident by using your own personal best as a measure (CafeMom had a great hub this summer on raising strong girls -- here are just a few of those tips).

But what can we do every day? To start, point out different types of beauty. This is a great way to incorporate the beauty talk without it turning to vanity. Another good idea? Combat all of the beauty talk in their world by praising your kids for what they do and how they act -- not necessarily how they look. And, finally, though it is hard to remember sometimes, we are their a-number-one role models. As you get ready in the morning, try to "monologue" how you decide what to wear or how you feel looking in the mirror -- when you are a healthy, confident mom who is aware of how she looks but doesn't make it a huge deal, that, perhaps, is the best first step.

How do you manage the line between teaching confidence and the vanity issue with your kids? Share your stories and advice!

©iStockphoto.com/Coffee&Milk 

by on Dec. 28, 2012 at 12:00 AM
Replies (51-52):
okijet
by on Jan. 5, 2013 at 12:05 PM

I regress, and it seems both complimentary to being a whole body, in spirit, power, mind, and the physical, since we are "all of those".  It's good to raise children with the 1st assumption though, that telling them about their progress , giving points, rewards, or a good bear hug, and a smile, kiss on the cheek.

I feel too much emphasis is given on looks though, and not all should be about just progress or the stuff they are good at.   I maybe haven't taken time to do that here, to just give it too the progress in my mind; where it's really stuck there. 

aidensmomma508
by on Jan. 9, 2013 at 9:25 AM

I don't think we are at that point yet but my son is handsome and he knows it :). 

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