How I’m Helping My Daughter Fight Insecurity

“I don’t like the way I look.” Those heartbreaking words came out of my 4 year old daughter one night right before bed. I couldn’t believe she was saying this to me. It was as if she was speaking a different language and I couldn’t understand her, yet I knew exactly what she was saying as it broke my heart.
 
I just couldn’t wrap my head around it. My husband and I give her love and encouragement on a daily basis. I’m always making sure knows that she’s not only beautiful on the outside, but she’s kind, loving, caring and sincere, which makes her even more beautiful on the inside.
 
Here I was staring at the most beautiful thing I had ever laid eyes on, my tiny best friend, the little love of my life, hand picked by God to be my miracle baby, and I was shocked at her words. Asking her to repeat herself I could hear her voice quivering as she said “Mommy I just don’t like the way I look.” My heart sank, my eyes watered, and my arms held her.
 
How I'm Helping My Daughter Fight Insecurity
 
It’s hard for a 4 year old to really REALLY communicate how they feel. On every other occasion my daughter has a story for everything and takes being a chatterbox to a whole other level. She keeps me up at night as she tends to talk in her sleep too. But this time she couldn’t find her words. And just hearing her repeat herself over and over just made me feel all the feelings all at once. She couldn’t explain to me why she was saying those things. She denied anyone being mean to her, someone calling her ugly or feeling bad any other time.
 
For all I know, they might have been words to get her out of an early bedtime, she tends to be a little dramatic. I seriously don’t know where she gets that from {inert sarcasm}, but I knew I couldn’t take her statement lightly. There’s no way I could even imagine what would possess her to say those words.
 
We’ve recently moved to Houston. We left our bubble in the RGV, the Rio Grande Valley, a Hispanic dominant community- my community for over 30 years. It’s definitely a community surrounded by a bubble, oblivious to the outside world and it’s habitants. My daughter’s new school and friends are all so diverse, nothing like back home. She’s meeting new people with all different backgrounds who speak different languages, who don’t all have dark hair and eyes like she does. I’m not sure if this has anything to do with her feelings, but as a parent, as her mother and her biggest fan, there’s no way I will let my daughter feel less than. Not today, not as a 4 year old, and not ever again, if I can help it.

Let Her Make Decisions

How I'm Helping My Daughter Fight InsecurityShe may be only 4, but I will continue to treat her as a person that matters. I allow her to make decisions and suffer consequences for bad ones. Giving her that independence and freedom to decide what she does or doesn’t want is huge. Something as simple as that can do a lot for a young child’s self esteem. Giving her the choice on what to wear to school, to a certain extent. Pajamas aren’t really the best attire for preschool. Things such as having kids choose what they want to eat for dinner, or what movie to watch can give a little one a sense of power and feel important and valued.

Give Praise

Praise, praise, praise. As a teacher I can tell you from first hand experience that a little praise goes a long way. Praise & stickers is Gold in the classroom. But at home, kids need praise too. Especially from their parents, their loves ones, those who see them in their most vulnerable states. I can’t tell you how many times I tell her daily she’s doing such a good job, or that her efforts are enough. I don’t know if that’s the teacher in me, or tbt mother in me, but I always like to make children feel special and seen. Children want to feel loved and know that they matter.

Be A Good Role Model

As her mother it’s only normal to question myself…. have I been putting myself down in front of her. Often times I find myself on speaker phone with a close friend as I’m multi tasking, laundry, dinner, etc. and I’m wondering if she’s heard me complain about my weight gain, my wrinkles, my dry skin?? Was she learning this from me? I can’t turn back time, but I can move forward and just be aware of what I say around her. I don’t ever talk bad about myself to her, but I should know better than to talk within her hearing. I’m her mother, and for a 4 year old, I’m pretty much her superhero. Teaching her confidence and acceptance has always been be a priority for me and I don’t see that changing.

I know this won’t be the last time I hear words like this from my girl, but I was really thinking this would come a lot later in her teen years, not in preschool. Maybe this situation was meant to keep me on my toes and prepare me for when those hormonal junior high years come, I’ll be ready. I’ll be loving her more, letting her get her taste of independence and reassuring her that she’s perfect just the way she is.

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