Looking for more than looks
‘What a pretty dress!’ ‘Don’t you look handsome!’
It can be a natural reflex to comment on a child’s outfit or looks when we meet them.
It’s often an easy and natural first remark to engage with small children, particularly those who we meet for the first time. These phrases are often intended as a harmless, friendly greeting, or as a genuine complement.
Over time, these kind of comments- when combined with a general lean towards outward appearance in other arenas like the media- can accumulate and contribute to a perceived link between a child’s self esteem and the way they look.
It can be such a valuable tool to pause for a second or two before making that opening comment to children.
Shifting the focus to less appearance-based comments like: ’How are you today?’ ‘Isn’t it a nice sunny day?!’ or ’You look so happy today!’ can be such a helpful change to make when interacting with the children around us.
By being aware of the choices we have in what we do and say to the children in our lives, we can really start to bring back the focus to the value of the child themselves, instead of inadvertently creating an emphasis on how they look.