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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 (21-30):
by Silver Member on Dec. 28, 2012 at 4:20 PM

I always tell my dd that being beautiful on the inside is more important then being beautiful on the outside. Some of the ugliest people I know are beautiful on the outside.

by Bronze Member on Dec. 28, 2012 at 7:04 PM

I think when they are young it's normal for them to feel like pretty angels lol I think as they get older they tend to get their self esteem more from their peers then from us. I always tell them how beautiful they are inside and out. I just hope they will always feel the same way about themselves :)

by Silver Member on Dec. 28, 2012 at 7:41 PM

I like to praise my son when he does something good, and not always when he looks cute.

by Member on Dec. 28, 2012 at 7:48 PM

I don't think its just our kids we should focus on. Any kids that you see or spend time with you can focus on these points.

I make a point to try to say thanks or compliment a job well done not only with my son but my teenage coworkers. Where I work we don't hear a lot of positive so it is nice to hear from time to time. I worked from 7 a.m to 6 p.m. tonight, thanks to one of those teenagers I did not have to work till 10 p.m. Believe me I told him thanks, and that I was very grateful for him agreeing to stay. 

by Silver Member on Dec. 28, 2012 at 9:29 PM

I never really thought of the vanity issue actually. I tell my daughter she is beautiful on the inside and out and I mean it and don't think I'm causing her to be vain.

by on Dec. 28, 2012 at 9:56 PM

Its hard.But I teach my kids they dont have to always do their hair,make up etc and to be conceited makes you ugly

by Bronze Member on Dec. 28, 2012 at 10:38 PM

Same here

Quoting BabyTeki:

I have no advice myself, but could use plenty

by Bronze Member on Dec. 29, 2012 at 10:08 AM

I think its important to model it ourselves, too.  Don't talk badly about your looks or body, don't obsess about being beautiful.  Be self confident yourself.

by Silver Member on Dec. 29, 2012 at 11:06 AM


Quoting 4kidz916:

I always tell my kids how beautiful/handsome I they are but I also compliment their actions, their style choices, their taste in music, etc.  I spend a lot of time building them up but we also have conversations about how looks aren't everything and looks can fade and what's on the inside truly makes a person beautiful.  I think it's very important to build their self esteem because my mother never did, she was too afraid of making us vain and in return crushed our self esteem. 

family car

by Gold Member on Dec. 29, 2012 at 1:16 PM

my kids are little. I'm still looking for advice on this :)

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