Stopping your daughter from obsessing too much over her appearance can be difficult. There are a few ways we may assist our children to focus less on their external appearances and more on what’s on the inside.
“Dear Inside Out”
Around the age of two, children begin to notice physical disparities, such as the proportions of people’s bodies and how people’s appearances differ from their expectations. I was three years old when my father told me that he had to fend off an aggressive biker because I had inquired as to why a man with a ponytail didn’t have a girl’s hair. Young youngsters are perfectly capable of making cringe-inducing statements about their attractiveness.
Your 6-year-old daughter’s harsh comments about her appearance worry me, though. To assist her in building a positive self-perception, you’re on the right track. As you and your daughter work on this, you should keep a few things in mind.
Make Social Modeling a Priority
What youngsters see and hear from adults profoundly affects their lives. According to studies, daughters who grow up hearing their mothers make disparaging remarks about their bodies are more likely to struggle with their body image issues. Consider what you and other vital caregivers may be modeling; even a habit of glancing in the mirror and looking dissatisfied could be sending a message. It’s a bad idea to say, “I should not eat that,” or “I simply need to drop a few pounds,” when you are unhappy with your appearance.
Take a step back and look at the grownups in your life who have the power to affect you. Is your daughter’s grandmother a harsh critic? What if you’re a babysitter? Whatever you do, you may find that she has been taught that appearance is important by the influential people in her life, despite your attempts. Talk to the other caregivers about your concerns and ask them to be more watchful around your daughter if necessary.
Another factor to consider at this age is what her friends are saying and doing. To begin primary school, kids are exposed to older kids who may be making nasty comments or taunting each other about their appearance. What other kids say about impressions can help you counterbalance these signals if you ask your daughter about what she hears from other kids.
As an example, think about media exposure.
Netflix, Hulu, and other streaming services provide most of our family’s television viewing options. Since I don’t want my daughters to witness commercials that glorify the superficiality of beauty, I feel like a grandmother when we watch live sporting events like the Super Bowl. We have less control over our children’s media exposure than previous generations because it now spreads far beyond the confines of our living rooms.
If your daughter is now using a wide variety of media, consider what subtle messages about her appearance might be conveyed. While watching a new television show, I saw that my daughters behaved in ways that reminded me of teenagers.
If you sit down with your daughter and ask her questions about her favorite characters and what she likes them, you may be surprised by what she says. This research may help you improve your watching habits or, at the very least, better communicate your counter-message about the importance of character attributes above outward appearances.
Take a Breather
Maybe she’s doing what children do best: trying to gain your attention. When we obsess on a problem we’re concerned about, we may reinforce the very behaviors we’re worried about. As a result, our children are more likely to continue with the habit.
For a few weeks, see if the frequency of her comments decreases if you try to steer the conversation in a different direction or ignore it. Find ways to give her attention that have nothing to do with appearance. It’s important to remember that when you’re attempting to stop a behavior, it’s normal for it to get worse for a short period to get your attention again. In most cases, if your daughter’s concentration on her beauty is learned rather than a poor self-image, she will move on.
When to Seek Assistance
Our family had decided to shun princess culture for our young daughter when she was three years old for the precise reasons you mention. However, her daycare buddy had gotten wind of our plan, and she now knows that Disney princesses exist.
Seven years later, this same girl, obsessed with princesses for at least two years, has firmly rejected the princess society. Hopefully, this is only a blip, and it’ll go away soon enough. Possibly, your efforts will help her move on from her current emphasis in the long term.
An evaluation by a mental health specialist may be warranted if your daughter’s negative comments about her appearance are occurring in conjunction with other indicators of low self-esteem and sad mood. Even while depression in young children is less common, it is feasible and necessitates further professional assistance.