Monday, November 05, 2007


I am a firm believer that self-esteem is created by learning what you are and are not good at, and understanding how to deal with both of those realities. Self-esteem is not created by telling a kid they are perfect and shielding them from failure, which is a misconception I saw way too often back when I was an elementary school teacher. This philosophy was easy for me to apply to other people's children. Would I be able to practice what I preached once I had kids of my own? Eh. . . sort of. I am usually able to let my kids try and fail at things, as long as I know they won't get hurt. But I have a hard, hard time witholding praise for praise's sake. Because look at them! They're perfect and gorgeous and perfect!

I think having a boy first caused me to let my guard down a bit. I have told him he is the most beautiful boy ever to exist pretty much since day one. And that's okay for a boy to hear, because he will inevitably be told he is smart and strong and fast and all the other wonderful things boys hear just because they're boys. As he has grown, I have worked to compliment him on his good qualities and call his attention to areas that need improvement. Since his teachers tell me he's smart and helpful, I have no problem complimenting him on that. It's not like I'm telling him he's a good eater or anything- I'm doing okay with him.

But Chloe- you just can't tell a girl that she's gorgeous every day of her life and not have it come back to bite you in the ass. So when she was a baby, I tried to temper the "beautiful girl!" exclamations with "and so smart and strong!" But really, what does a baby do to show you her strength of character? Not much, really- she just sits there, pooping and drooling and being breathtakingly gorgeous. So eventually I gave up, because I didn't want to lie, and just reverted to the beauty angle. And boy did I ever screw up. She's talking now, and I tried to use that as an opportunity to bolster her sense of self, it might be too late. She's easily frustrated by things she can't do- way more than her brother ever has been- and she seems to rely on the adorableness thing rather than her vocabulary to (successfully) get what she wants out of us. The nail went in the coffin this morning when, after refusing one pair of shoes in favor of another, declared, "I cute!" Her elementary school teachers are going to hate me.


Stacey Greenberg said...

lol that is hilarious!!

my monkeys get away with a lot just b/c they are cute, so it isn't just girls, but they've never voalized it quite so well! ha.

Anonymous said...

Yea, we kind of had the same thing going on with Megan for a while. We realized it once while grocery shopping. A lady walked by and said, "What a pretty girl!" Megan looked at her and said, "I'm not pretty. I am gorgeous." It was cute. For a 2 year old.. But, it wont be so cute when she says that to her peers in school.

Your kids are so adorable. :)