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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!


by on Dec. 28, 2012 at 12:00 AM
Replies (11-20):
by Silver Member on Dec. 28, 2012 at 9:46 AM

Teach her that she is beautiful on the inside and out. Tell her I love her and the best present you can give yourself is , Love the skin your in.

by on Dec. 28, 2012 at 9:52 AM

I tell my son that having confidence is being sure about who you are and your ability to accomplish whatever you set out to do.

by Bronze Member on Dec. 28, 2012 at 10:16 AM

Quoting hollydaze1974:

One phrase that i heard from my mother for quite a long time was " Pretty is, as pretty does" . It followed every compliment i was given. It followed every agreement if i went " fishing " for a compliment.
And now as an adult, if i get down on myself, and i say " god, i'm really falling apart.., i'm this, that, whine, whine"
She answers the same way... " Baby, you are beautiful! Pretty is as pretty does! You are kind, polite, and courteous even when they don't deserve it. You treat your family with love and respect, the only thing you are lacking at the moment is remembering, it's the love you have isn't found in the make up and heels....
Your smile and respectful attitude is all you need to be beautiful outwardly.

All that to say: reflect on that saying with your children..." Pretty is as pretty does" ask them what it means, ask what you think it means.
I mean if we saw a child showing sass in public mom would whisper " look at that little boy/ girl being ugly to their mommy/ dad"
He/she may be cute, but aren't they acting ugly?

Redefine the words of attractiveness.

I like what you said - I'll need to start saying this.

I have just boys so I suspect its easier with them.  We certainly do tell them they are cute pretty often, but we also praise good behavior.

by Bronze Member on Dec. 28, 2012 at 10:35 AM

Very tough sometimes!

by Bronze Member on Dec. 28, 2012 at 11:22 AM

I like the idea of pointing out diff. types of beauty. =)

by Gold Member on Dec. 28, 2012 at 12:48 PM

I teach my kids that you have to beautiful inside to truly be beautiful outside. 

by on Dec. 28, 2012 at 1:04 PM

I think its important to praise other aspects of a child, smart, funny, interesting, good at sports or whatever

by on Dec. 28, 2012 at 2:52 PM

It's rough. I tell my daughter  to take care  of herself, be proud of her what she has to offer.

by Gold Member on Dec. 28, 2012 at 3:10 PM

Me 3! lol...but I'm sure there are some good answers here.

Quoting elasmimi:

Me, too.

Quoting BabyTeki:

I have no advice myself, but could use plenty

by Gold Member on Dec. 28, 2012 at 3:12 PM

This is a good one.  I want to teach my son more confidence in himself as he seems to put himself down often.

Quoting natesmom1228:

I tell my son that having confidence is being sure about who you are and your ability to accomplish whatever you set out to do.

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