When you have a child, it is a huge honor and responsibility to generate the self-esteem in your growing kiddo. And at the same time to encourage her/him to always express themselves without being afraid that something they do is not up to somebody’s liking.
This behavior cannot be taught. It can only be caught by your personal encouragement and expression of who you are yourself. All done with your child’s presence.
My toddler son is really into Dora videos right now. These short animation films really teach a lot of interesting and somewhat difficult concepts like Maps, Abstract Thinking, and Recognizing Feelings, to mention a few. Naturally, my son is gravitating to Dora memorabilia like books and toys with Dora characters on them. Recently, we got a Dora umbrella for him. He picked it out of all umbrellas because Dora was on it. Nothing wrong with that choice, you’d say. FYI: The umbrella was pink. And color pink is associated with girl’s things.
Without emphasizing that this is for girls, I bought this umbrella with my focus on Dora-Explora instead. That’s what he was after! Well, some of the kids on the playground started teasing him about being a boy who was running around with the girl’s umbrella. My son got upset and ran to me. I explained to him that he really liked Dora-Explora who is smart, adventuresome, and knows and teaches so many extraordinary things to him and all the children in the world. That was my emphasis. He returned to the playground with more confidence and eventually “re-educated” the crowd of boys there what this umbrella really meant.
I was so proud of my boy! And even much happier to see all the kids were playing together.
Being Beth has her own story to share with you about girls, mustache, and Unicorns.
I was a child who adored playing dress-up and being fancy. And I was fortunate enough to have had a great grandma with an affinity for costume jewelry and a mom who was just fine taking a little girl wearing gobs of it with her “Punky Brewster” socks (as in, they did not match – not only did they not match the Orphan Annie dress and Mickey Mouse ear combo of the moment, they did not match each other) around our small town.
People would stop us and say, “My, doesn’t she look beautiful?” I would beam and my mom would smile and say, “Oh yes. She’s dressing herself!” As if the lady at the check-out counter thought perhaps my 30-something-year-old mom was fashion forward enough to pair a sun hat with water boots and a pair of glasses without the lenses.
Skip on ahead a couple of decades and my five-year-old daughter is famous (by “famous” I mean on my Facebook page and with her peeps in kindergarten) for her wild outfits. This year for Halloween, I dressed up as a chick from the 80’s—Side ponytail, tons of huge jewelry, skirt and leggings, sunglasses, fingerless gloves, lots of make-up… you get the idea. My daughter saw me, gasped and breathlessly and excitedly squealed, “Mommy! Are you … ME?!?!?!” She was honored.
She’s in this phase. I wish it would last forever. It’s this wonderful phase where the sky is the limit, and everything is beautiful, and SHE is beautiful. And confidant. And … Zesty! She will wear pink clip-in hair extensions that are about two inches longer than her actual hair, a couple giant bows, a half dozen necklaces, a tutu, and a pair of dress-up heels and she knows she looks great.
She wears get-ups like this everywhere. People compliment her all the time and she demurely says, “Thank you.” As if she’s thinking that it’s about time this stranger realized they’re in the presence of someone … special. It’s fantastic to just watch this little girl who hasn’t worried about the pressures of a society that wants her to look and feel a certain way. She has no idea what it’s like to be awkward. She has nothing to live up to. She’s just happy being her!
So, next time you’re at a grocery store and you see a little girl wearing a Rapunzel dress and swim goggles, tell her how beautiful she is. She’s expressing herself. She knows she’s gorgeous, and she is thrilled you think so, too! And when you see that little boy in an ill-fitting cowboy vest, a Ninja headband, and a pair of red Wonder Woman boots, tell him he looks super cool. These kids are full of life and the confidence that comes with knowing (Knowing!) they’re something special. We should all be just a little bit jealous of the kid unabashedly rocking the plastic stethoscope and reindeer antlers at Target in July. That kid knows he can do anything.
I told my daughter just this morning, “Sweetie, you are the most special and unique little girl in the whole world! You’re more special and unique than rainbows and unicorns and…” I certainly would have continued but she excitedly interrupted me and said, “Mom!! Can the unicorns have mustaches on them? Please??”
Oh yes, sweet girl, you are even more special and unique than a unicorn with a mustache. And no matter what happens in this life and how many people try to get you to do things their way, I pray that you hang on to this glorious confidence.
Have you seen kids wearing things out in public you know their parents didn’t lay out for them the night before? What do you think of that? Obnoxious? Delightful? Do you have a child or two who likes to dress up in old Halloween costumes and hit the mall? Please share how you’ve encouraged or maybe curbed this!
There Are Some Other Posts By Being Beth You May Be Curious To Explore