Children’s importance goes beyond their looks. Teach them to be independent and give realistic compliments about their effort. Then do the same to boost your self-confidence as well.
The importance of a body image
Recently I saw my photo when I was 25. At that time my whole looks seemed not good enough. But I looked beautiful.
I am an average-looking person who thought I should look better – this way I would get things easier. I lacked self-confidence.
I wanted to be a blonde at the age of 5.
When I was a teenager, every part of my body seemed bad except the big scar on my forehead – people were asking about it and it had a story to tell.
It took me 30 years to realize that my butt was just fine.
I love the whole grey hair, no waxing, Ashley Graham movement. I am excited to see the shift in what’s “normal“. Women waste too much time on beauty every day.
Approaching 40 I don’t care anymore what people in the street are going to think about my looks.
Still, I couldn’t help saying it’s unhealthy to be fat in front of an obese relative. A few times! Without a wish to hurt him. Then I realized in surprise how important it is to me to be lean.
If I could, I would always choose a curvy figure. But my build is different.
The good looks is not only a sociocultural thing. It also relates to the way we choose our partners to have a healthy offspring. It is the first thing we see in others. It is a huge part of our identity.
But how do we build our children’s self-confidence when the whole world struggles with the importance of a body image?
In her 2016 interview with the Guardian Sia admits the importance of one’s body image for a celebrity’s self-confidence:
People in the entertainment industry are considered beauty role models. Thank god paparazzi take their photos with no makeup on. Otherwise we would all think they are demigods.
Self-confidence is what you think and do
A vast majority of adults suffer from the lack of self-esteem. In my experience, self-confident people are not those who can offer the most. It’s some other people. Still, most of us are confident enough to eat, sleep, and take a bath – you can’t be afraid of the things you regularly do.
Self-esteem is based on what you do and being proud of it. Feeling good about yourself. And feeling accepted by others.
A great number of women suffer from low self-confidence. Regardless of all the feminist struggle, idealized physical attractiveness is still considered the most important quality in a person. Many women have a need to be perfect and suffer from low self-esteem as a consequence of this.
How do we make our kids believe they look just fine with all the photoshopped smiling faces having fun in commercials? How do we debunk the formula that “catwalk beauty = happiness”? Global culture still relies on myths of beauty, youth, sex, money, and “livin’ la vida loca”.
“Adolescent girls often think that being thinner would make them happier, healthier, & better looking.”
Self-confidence comes from 3 sources:
- What you think about yourself
The voice inside you comes from what other people have told you and your own experiences.
- What others think about you
People close to you such as family and friends are very important, but also teachers and the media. The messages young people get from the environment will become the way they see themselves.
- What you learn to do
When you learn to do something, you feel good about yourself.
Techniques to build your child’s self-confidence
I have been thinking and reading expert advice on how to build a child’s self-confidence. This is what I’ve come up with:
Teach your children…
- To be critical to what they see
One of the best gifts they can have from you is a mind that knows how to think. For example, it would be good for them to notice:
“She doesn’t look like that in her bedroom.”
- No one is perfect
Make them realize that Facebook and Instagram filters, the red carpet, and ads are fake. Also, beauty standards change – the 90-ies models didn’t have big rear ends.
- To be their own best friend
Too much self-criticism and great expectations lead to unhappiness. They should learn to speak kind words to themselves. Nothing can be “perfect“ but it can be “good enough“.
- To choose to be with people who love them
They should not believe they are as good as their peers treat them. Let them know that many kids bully someone because they are destructive, not because they are better. They don’t know what real qualities are.
- People we love are always beautiful to us
Identity is not just your face and how much you weigh. They should know they are special because they are smart and kind, not because their jaw is in proportion with their nose.
- To see the good around them
Not just the bad. They should try to find a few good things around them throughout the day.
What you should do:
- Don’t underestimate their feelings
To them, it IS a big deal. Acknowledge the strong emotion and help them process and deal with it. This way they won’t feel weird about themselves – everybody has strong negative feelings. Also, they will become more mentally resilient over time.
- Get them to do stuff all by themselves
They should make age-appropriate choices to feel more in charge of their own lives. Give them house chores. They will feel competent and excercise their problem-solving skills.
- Help them set a goal and try to achieve it
Let them choose something important. They should plan the stages on how to do it and track progress. Encourage them to be proud of what they have achieved so far.
- Help them practice how to persevere
Praise their effort, not their qualities – they are not “the best of all“ but they “did a great job with…“
Every success story is a series of failures and someone just kept on going. If it’s not working, your child could try again some other time.
- Teach them to help and give to others
They should do something for someone else. Help, give or clean out. This way they can be proud of themselves.
I have created the image below for my kitchen fridge. Feel free to use or share it with your friends 😉 If you’d like to read more about parenting and growing up, subscribe to my weekly email or see my book Just a blackbird – The story about growing up.