Over the last few weeks we’ve been talking about how to help our kids say NO or YES rather than please others.
We’ve heard this heart-wrenching story and seen how much we need new parenting tools to teach our kids to respect their own values (and bodies!) when they are exploring sex and drinking (and other situations where we won’t be there and peer pressure can strong).
We’ve talked about how one of the side-effects of parenting for body confidence is greater resilience and the ability to act based on internal instead of external values.
We’ve seen how a simple shift from praising and rewarding to encouragement is tantamount to our kids doing stuff that makes them proud of themselves, not just going with what everyone else is doing.
Today, let’s get even more practical. Let’s see why the ever-so-common “you look gorgeous, or beautiful, or healthy, or strong” (all forms of praise) can backfire.
We tell them they’re gorgeous (or looking pleasing in some way) in part because it’s a cultural custom. Hi, oh wow – you look gorgeous today. It’s what we’ve always done, so we keep doing it.
But when you poke a stick at it, there’s another, possibly more hopeful reason.
We tell them because we want to inoculate them from the pain of feeling ugly. We mistakenly think complimenting their beauty will build their confidence.
But… it turns out the exact opposite happens. If we give looks based compliments to our kids to build their confidence, we also reinforce their power to bring them down.
When our kids feel like their value as a human resides in how they look (external value), they are for more likely to please their peers than stand up for themselves (internal value).
And…it’s far more likely that feeling ugly (and we ALL feel ugly from time to time) will be deeply painful and hard to overcome…let alone find the stones to push back on harmful cultural systems that privilege some bodies over others for purely aesthetic reasons.
So what can we do instead?
Stop complimenting looks (praise) and start complimenting who they are inside (encouragement).
“Hi love, how lovely to see you”
“I’d like to hear your opinion on…”
“You’re such a kind person”
“I love how you stand up for yourself”
“I love how you make mistakes and learn from them”
If you’re already enrolled in the Raising Body Confident Kids parenting course (it’s been fabulous welcoming all of you who have recently enrolled!!) – you can hop over to Module Two for practical ways to stop praising and start encouraging in all areas of their life. Remember to download the ‘words of encouragement’ swipe-sheet.
While you’re at it, I’d recommend re-listening to Module Four – how to have conversations so they will listen.
Not yet enrolled, but curious, you can learn more here.
Here’s what parents are saying…
“your tools work like magic”
“Wow I’ve been using one of your strategies and what a difference. It’s the easiest thing ever and the results are immediate. My child has been withdrawn for so long and suddenly they are walking around with their chest puffed up!”
The course is still in development, which means you get all the development deals…
…a free plan upgrade
As I always say, if the course is not for you, no worries!! I hope you stick around for the free emails. They will continue to be packed full of ideas, strategies and tools you can use to boost your child’s body confidence.
It’s a pleasure to support you on your parenting for body confidence journey!
PS If you’d up for watching an interview about how I got into this work and uncovering why parenting for body confidence is such a mind-field these days…this interview with The Daily Positive is for you.
Like what you’ve read? Get the free Raising Body Confident Kids 3 part training series (5 mins each), plus weekly-ish coaching emails.