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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 (31-40):
by Silver Member on Dec. 29, 2012 at 3:14 PM

I've been struggling with this. I hardly ever wear makeup, but once in a while DD sees me putting on eyeliner and wants to know why. I don't know what to say. I'm getting older and I'm always tired and my eyes just look nicer with a bit of liner than they do without.

by Bronze Member on Dec. 29, 2012 at 3:44 PM

This is a tough question. I never did figure out the answer.  I wanted the boys to be confident yet not vain.

by Bronze Member on Dec. 29, 2012 at 4:56 PM
I need to figure this one out myself for my daughters sake lol.
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by Member on Dec. 29, 2012 at 11:54 PM
It is very hard to manage the two. I have 2 girls, 9 and 4 yrs old. I try to teach them to be humble
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by Member on Dec. 30, 2012 at 9:41 AM

I think about this issue all the time.  I remember when my DD was younger (maybe 3 or 4) she told someone, "I'm so beautiful."  Now she was little and it was not meant in a stuck-up, snobby manner!  But when she said it, I slightly cringed, imagining her thinking/saying things like that at 8 years old or 12...  and I started wondering.  Where exactly IS that line between vain and confident?  Or vain and proud of yourself?  ...etc.  I mean, when you are older, it is one thing for people to tell you you are beautiful.  It is another thing for you to tell others you're beautiful.  Even teaching that is complex.  "It's OK for me to tell you this is what you are.  I believe this is what you are.  You should believe this is what you are.  But, it comes off as vain for you to tell others."  It's just... a hard thing for a kid to understand.

by on Dec. 30, 2012 at 4:17 PM

My kids are very confident.  They've never been vain.

by on Dec. 30, 2012 at 8:06 PM

i think it's about balance.  build a child up when they really do a great job or just for trying hard is great.  but i also think it's fine for them to hear that they didn't do so well at something, or needed to put more effort into something they did.


by Silver Member on Dec. 31, 2012 at 1:10 AM

We talk often about how our actions make others feel.

by Bronze Member on Dec. 31, 2012 at 6:49 AM

 Ya know .. i havent really had this problem with my boys yet ..

by Bronze Member on Dec. 31, 2012 at 9:53 AM
1 mom liked this

Love that!

Quoting jessicasmom1:

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.

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