2yo asked me if she's pretty, how to handle?

(44 Posts)
ExpatAunty Mon 14-Oct-13 20:05:00

My two year old recently asked 'me pretty mummy? How can I respond and make sure she does not become defined by a concept of beauty?

Igloofornow Thu 17-Oct-13 00:25:56

I'm always telling my dc that they are gorgeous, clever, funny, kind blah blah. To me they are absolutely perfect and I know the big wide world will change that but I figure the more I bring them up to believe in themselves the more reserves they'll have left after life knocks it away.

I hate to hear them say, I'm rubbish at or I can't do... and always answer with a positive.

May have some confidence ishoos from negative mother

nooka Thu 17-Oct-13 00:12:02

Bettercallsaul1 of course it's important for everyone to be kind, generous and empathetic and these are values to try very hard to instill /encourage in our children. It's just incredibly easy to praise very different things in girls and boys and I think it matters in the long run.

People tend to associate particular values with girls and boys, and I think therefore focus on them (for little kids that may be boisterousness for boys and sitting nicely and being pretty for girls, and I think it limits both). This might mean for me and my children praising ds more for the being nice type characteristics whilst praising dd when she is strong, brave, or speaks out for her principles because the outside world is likely not to do so very much. Of course it could be that's the wrong approach too!

I like the 'pretty amazing' response smile My children were generally gorgeous girl and beautiful boy when they were small, just because I like alliteration.

YoureBeingADick Wed 16-Oct-13 16:12:48

So what did you tell her OP?

matana Wed 16-Oct-13 14:35:26

She's 2. Tell her she's the most beautiful thing you've ever laid eyes on, it's the truth. I tell my ds this, and more, every single day, several times a day. Plenty of time to teach them that beauty is skin deep when they're old enough to understand such a complex theory!

TwoStepsBeyond Wed 16-Oct-13 13:06:09

I tell my DD she is beautiful because she is and also because as a concept I feel that beauty is more encompassing than mere 'prettiness'.

I remember seeing Linda Papadopulous on TV once saying that whenever you compliment your DD/child's looks that you should also add something about their other attributes (clever, funny etc) which I do.

I have passed this wisdom onto DP, who has 2 DDs and (like some posters on this thread apparently) seems never to have considered that defining them predominantly by their looks could be damaging to their self-esteem in the long run.

We all like to be told we look nice, that we're beautiful, pretty, cute, hot etc but even as an adult, I also like to be complimented on being clever, strong, capable etc. and somehow this means more because these are things that are within my control, I can take credit for them. If I look pretty its only thanks to half of the Boots make-up counter my parents' genes.

MirandaWest Wed 16-Oct-13 11:53:06

I don't like the word pretty, thinking about it. Feels a bit too Disney princess for me. I prefer beautiful. And gorgeous. And wonderful.

FrauMoose Wed 16-Oct-13 11:49:44

I used to call my daughter 'my cutesy-wootsy-tootsie girl' when she was small. It was - I think - a way of being affectionate, while sending up the whole concept of girls being cute, pretty etc.

duchesse Wed 16-Oct-13 11:45:35

Say, yes you are pretty, and clever and strong. That should cover all bases and ensure that knows that prettiness isn't all there is to it.

sandtimerhalfempty Wed 16-Oct-13 11:43:57

I second the pretty amazing

YoureBeingADick Wed 16-Oct-13 11:35:34

confused

Please tell me you answered her and didnt just leave her hanging til you consulted MN?

WhizzforAtomms Wed 16-Oct-13 11:30:49

I don't suggest this is going to help with your question but I saw this after a recommendation on mumsnet and think it is great:

Pretty by Katie Makkai

Passthecake30 Wed 16-Oct-13 10:39:42

I would say yes. She is 2!

My mum used to me look at me and say "God, you're ugly". Wasn't great for my confidence, every child should be gorgeous in their parents eyes.

FrightFlea Wed 16-Oct-13 10:34:43

I tell my dds that they are gorgeous, pretty, kind, etc. I don't remember ever being told that as a child as like Espresso's mother, modesty was valued more. I remember all the criticisms, they were plentiful. I find it very hard to take a compliment now and always think the person is lying or insincere.

suebfg Tue 15-Oct-13 22:00:07

Tell her she is the most beautiful girl in the world! I never stop gushing to my DC that they are the most beautiful children in the world.

EspressoMonkey Tue 15-Oct-13 21:56:38

Absolutely tell her she is pretty. I grew up thinking i was not at all attractive and then spent 12 years working as a model. And i am still paranoid about my looks. My DM insists she never told me i was pretty as she didn't want me to be big headed, she assumed i knew i was pretty. I never did, why would i, nobody told me i was until i was 16! I accept my DM's reasoning but have spent most of my life thinking i am not that attractive because despite what other people say what your parents say or don't say tends to matter more.

DuckToWater Tue 15-Oct-13 21:43:37

Kindness isn't self-sacrificing, it's what everyone should aspire to.

NotAQueef Tue 15-Oct-13 21:38:16

Have never heard of a 2yr old ask this before!
Of course reassure her she's beautiful (what 2yr old isn't?) but also (as I'm sure you do) validate and praise her for being good/clever/kind/funny etc

Spongingbobsunderpants Tue 15-Oct-13 21:37:02

Or you can take the approach my grandmother took and say things like "yes, you're quite pretty but that colour doesn't do you any favours" wink

Spongingbobsunderpants Tue 15-Oct-13 21:33:41

When dd does this (rather she tells me than asks!) I always try to say it in the same sentence as funny, clever and kind so she sees these things as equal.

Bettercallsaul1 Tue 15-Oct-13 14:15:55

Disney films, perhaps? (not many homely princesses there!)

mawbroon Tue 15-Oct-13 13:57:02

I've only got DSs, so I know nothing!!

But where has she got the idea from about asking if she is pretty? At age 2? shock

Bettercallsaul1 Tue 15-Oct-13 12:09:22

But Nooka - to me, kindness, generosity and empathy are the cardinal virtues and just as important to instil in little boys as girls! I certainly don't see these as purely "feminine" virtues and, in my case, I was just as quick to praise my son as my daughter for acts that were kind, considerate and empathetic. Both sexes should grow up thinking these qualities are vital, both for the sake of other people and for the success of their own relationships with others. Kindness and empathy are the glue that binds society together and the best way to ensure fair and compassionate treatment for all is to stress their importance to girls and boys as early as possible.

nooka Tue 15-Oct-13 10:00:37

I tried quite hard to avoid calling my dd pretty, because of it's associations with a particular sort of femininity. I'd also watch out with tempering your 'yes' response with other traditionally female characteristics like kindness, generosity or other self sacrificing qualities unless you also throw in some more wild and unique factors too. Possibly I feel that way because I also have a son and I wanted to make sure that they both knew that I valued them for themselves (and ds wasn't so great on the kind/nice front when he was small!)

I tell my children that they are wonderful on a regular basis because I think it's important, but I also keep it at least a bit silly because it's important not to take these things too seriously.

So I'd rather respond to 'me pretty mummy' with 'you are wonderful/gorgeous/fabulous/best dd in the whole wide world dd' plus then I tended to get the response 'your the best mummy too' which was very nice! Now dd is older she just reminds me that she is my only dd grin She is wonderful though smile

DeWe Tue 15-Oct-13 09:48:51

For a start off you say "yes". If you fudge the issue "it doesn't really matter what you look like" they'll probably go away thinking they aren't but you don't want to say.
But I would continue with something along the likes of "and I loved, it when you shared your doll with Katie, you're so kind" or "but even better, you're generous/kind/brilliant at tidying up..." (whatever you want to say).

For the debate people are having on health/disability and beauty. My dd2 (age 9yo) was born without her hand. She is also beautiful in that people do stop to admire her, and comment. Even though, she is very insecure about her appearance because she is aware that she is different than everyone (or nearly) else.
You also do need to think if you go for the "beautiful because you're healthy" that health doesn't always stay. If your dc does then develop health issues then you may find that they have the extra baggage of thinking they've lost their beauty too.

SLVC Mon 14-Oct-13 22:19:17

*wonderful. Damn autocorrect.

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