Here’s why you shouldn’t tell your children they are beautiful

For decades, parents have been taught to raise their children’s self esteem and confidence by constantly pumping their egos full of affirmations and positivity, especially concerning their physical appearance. Endless strings of “You look beautiful” and “Aren’t you handsome, as always” and “What a gorgeous creature my child is” are supposed to boost a child’s opinion of him or herself as special and uniquely wonderful. However, in a recent interview with The Daily Telegraph, UK junior Equalities Minister Jo Swinson says that this strategy might backfire and will lead to negative consequences instead.

According to Swinson, parents who place too much focus on their child’s physical attributes sends the message that a person’s looks are of utmost import in achieving succes in life. Things like intelligence, inquisitiveness, work ethic, and a positive spirit are made to be, at best, secondary in importance. This can lead children to grow up with a skewed system of priorities as adults.

Swinson, who does not have children of her own, also stresses the importance of not speaking about one’s own body image issues in front of impressionable children. “{If parents are} saying, ‘Does my bum look too big? I need to get rid of this tummy,’ children copy, they learn. …I know as an aunt, you fall into the trap of turning to your niece and saying, ‘you look beautiful’ — because of course all children do look beautiful — but if the message they get is that is what’s important and that is what gets praise, then that’s not necessarily the most positive message you want them to hear.”

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About the Author: Sharon J. Beaulieu

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