I know that I’ve said this a million times already, but it’s important enough to say a million times more:

Attention is absolute sunshine for children.

What we give our attention to is what we reinforce.

When adults interact with little girls and the first thing that comes out of our mouths is consistently something about their appearance, THAT is the value we are imparting. That is what we teach them is important. Physical appearance becomes reinforced, and little girls learn that how they look is an extremely important factor in how they get attention (which often becomes a measure of self-worth).

Perhaps this is unavoidable because of how our culture obsesses over fashion, beauty and youth; appearance will inevitably increase in importance as little girls grow and develop into young women. In the adult world, being mindful of our appearance is quite important – not only for sexual appeal, but within the professional world as well. How we care for our physical selves communicates something about our personalities, tastes and values. For better or worse, we judge and are judged by others based on appearances.

That being said, reinforcing a child’s mind is WAY more beneficial than letting the first words out of our mouths be, “Ooh, you look so cute in that dress!”

I’m in no way immune to the habit of complimenting girls’ looks first thing – but I can do better. I think we all can. I aim to be more mindful regarding what I reinforce in interactions with girls. What do I put emphasis on?

Lisa Bloom, author of Think: Straight Talk For Women to Stay Smart in a Dumbed-Down World, writes an interesting article about this very subject. At the end of her article Lisa gives some excellent advice for adults who want to reinforce young girls’ minds ahead of their looks:

“Try this the next time you meet a little girl. She may be surprised and unsure at first, because few ask her about her mind, but be patient and stick with it. Ask her what she’s reading. What does she like and dislike, and why? There are no wrong answers. You’re just generating an intelligent conversation that respects her brain. For older girls, ask her about current events issues: pollution, wars, school budgets slashed. What bothers her out there in the world? How would she fix it if she had a magic wand? You may get some intriguing answers. Tell her about your ideas and accomplishments and your favorite books. Model for her what a thinking woman says and does.”

What do you think about our culture’s emphasis on appearance?

How have you seen this affect young girls?

How has it affected you?

Read Lisa Bloom’s full article here.

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One Response to “How to Talk to Little Girls”

  1. Lobo says:

    I have to think back in a promise how I would be when it came time that I was to be alone to know what to do. There are so many things that have come to light and many ideas that I have thrown away for the better of being someone that my daughter can speak to about everything and anything. After 8 yrs, I am still learning that she is a little girl growing exactly like me and in many things like her mother. Those things have come out of her in styles that made me think hard and know she is a part of someone else.
    I have shown her that she can love so long as it is where you are with one person to make that happen. Because it’s not like her aunt and uncle to tell her and she has to tell them back “I love you”.. It’s not the same thing. She has asked me things about why I have to love, and the one thing I keep telling her is She will feel love all her life but in different ways.
    She is neat and color coordinated about things in her room as she has seen me do, and tries to be like me but in her own way for getting dressed up. I allow her to pick and choose what she wants when we go shopping. I let her see that Money doesn’t mysteriously appear my pocket, and that she can’t just get anything. So she mixes and matches till she is happy and then we look at the cost so she knows what can be bought. When she looks in the mirror in her room, I can listen to her speaking to herself: “I am going to be a strong woman and grow up like I want so I can change what I want”. It scares me, yes! But I will not stop her from becoming who she is for the sake of me. I can only let her find what’s out there in life and what it is like to be unsure, not safe and scared when I am not around to help her out.
    I guess my choices for her sexual wants or needs if she will tell me will be about feelings and how to be able to set her own guidelines to venture into the unknown about sex. We’ve had that talk about sex and I thought I was going to shut down and tell her to go to her room and I’d devise plans about how to chain her to her room till she was 21. But no.. it didn’t work out that way.. she told me she had learned from a nurse at school about babies come from. Which then shocked me when she said what happened if you had sex with no protection and the love had to be there forever. Believe me.. I was almost grabbing her and hugging her with little kisses all over her face. That was better than me giving her EX-LAX before all dates so she would have to come home sooner then expected. But we both agreed that if there was ever a problem, Daddy would be there to speak to her about all things.. even when she was married and needed a break away from things to stay her mind being safe. I was to be there and not gone. I am still learning many things to give her before she leaves the nest.

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