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4-year-old DD says she isn't beautiful

(13 Posts)
wavingkitty Wed 21-Sep-11 20:20:36

It has really upset me. She is a pretty little girl, not outstandingly beautiful, but certainly pretty. I tell her all the time how beautiful she is. But today she said 'No I'm not, I don't think I'm beautiful, I don't like the way I look.'

I am terrified this is going to turn into real issues later on, eating disorders, low self-esteem, whatever. What can I do - apart from telling her how pretty she is - to help? And does anyone else's dc say this kind of thing?


AnaisB Wed 21-Sep-11 21:20:17

Part of me is thinking if she is not beautiful then why say she is all the time? (TBH even if she was beautiful then why say it all the time?) I don't know, but maybe saying she is beautiful all the time sets beauty out as something really important. Maybe it sounds disingenuous even to a 4 year old.

The other part of me does feel really sad that she would say that she doesn't like the way she looks, but it seems premature to worry about ED etc. I would be more concerned if she seems to have low self-esteem generally.

wavingkitty Wed 21-Sep-11 22:47:35

Thanks for your answer. She is beautiful, in my opinion - when I said 'not outstandingly beautiful', I meant just that - not totally amazingly the most beautiful girl in the school to most people, probably. But I do see your point -have I actually made her worry about it more because I draw attention to the whole issue? Or do I boost her self-esteem by telling her she is beautiful? What's the best way to make someone feel better about the way they look?
Not sure if she has low self-esteem generally - it hasn't struck me particularly, but she is a bit of a perfectionist.

CocktailQueen Wed 21-Sep-11 23:03:51

Why not compliment her on her other skills/attributes instead - you're so clever/generous/unselfish/a good colourer/great at writing/ etc? That way she would realise there are many ways to be appreciated and loved, not just for her looks.

themightyskim Thu 22-Sep-11 09:37:34

Just dont do what my mother did and say 'well you may not be as beautiful as ** but your very clever' I always hated her and the other girl after that comment smile

LunaticFringe Thu 22-Sep-11 09:47:35

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

DeWe Thu 22-Sep-11 10:12:53

I wouldn't be drawn into a discussion on it. I'd say "I think you are beautiful" and change the subject, perhaps praising her for something else.
I think girls at that age often go through a stage of saying that they like so-and-so's hair, or someone else has a beautiful dress etc. If you start panicking and saying "you are beautiful" lots of times they can think that you set too much store on being beautiful.

For what it's worth dd2 came home aged 4yo and several times said she was fat. She is extremely thin. It hasn't caused her any problems. It was just a phase she went through.

Hatwoman Thu 22-Sep-11 10:20:50

read the twits with her by Roald Dahl - he talks about beauty being as a result of a good/kind/generous nature and ugliness coming out of being mean spirited and grumpy.

Janiston Thu 22-Sep-11 10:28:07

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

wavingkitty Thu 22-Sep-11 10:43:36

Thanks everyone. My impulse, as Janiston says, is to tell her she's beautiful because I think she is and because surely it's good to hear that? I wish I had been told it more - or at all, really - as a child. But then on the other hand I do worry that maybe I've overdone it and somehow set her up to question it/dwell on it too much by telling her all the time. It's so hard! Totally agree that bringing up girls today is very fraught.

AnaisB Thu 22-Sep-11 11:12:03

It is hard - and I'm sorry if I sounded harsh.

I call my DD "my beautiful baby" too - because she is beautiful to me. (Not sure how much it boosts her self-esteem as she is 8 months.) I'm not advocating a strict "no comments about appearance" approach or saying that we have to be bluntly truthful with our DDs, but I stick by my sentiments. I'm just not convinced that that kind of frequent positive affirmation is so good for self-esteem.

(and it has gender role implications)

MsWeatherwax Thu 22-Sep-11 12:13:06

Ask her why she thinks she is not beautiful, what does she think being beautiful is? Sometimes they get ideas in their heads, like not being beautiful because they don't have blond hair. You might be able to tackle it with judicious use of picture books/television which has role models that look like they do. I always think specifics are good too: e.g. your hair is beautiful, you have a beautiful smile etc - but agree that it's good to focus less on beauty and more on other things as being "important".

dogscatsandbabies Thu 22-Sep-11 14:05:39

Just a little point to add, don't know if it's relevant in your situation... Children mimic what they hear adults saying. Is there anyone in her close family (mum, auntie, grandmother etc) who is self-depricating about their appearance? She may just be picking it up from there.

I have considered banning my mum from the house until she can stop describing herself as 'fat and useless' when she burns toast. I think it's a dreadful thing for DD to hear a) because my mum is neither of these things and b) because it only teaches her to link those two things and therefore believe she has to be skinny to be successful.

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