I don't tell my daughter she's pretty. At least not in the way you are thinking. When Lydia was younger, she was born with a facial birth defect (you can read all about that HERE). At the time, one my biggest concerns…..was that she would never feel beautiful. I worried that people would judge her based on her appearance. I worried that she would always feel less than.
As with anything else in life, that phase passed. Her medical treatment was successful. And here we are. I have a four year old daughter who loves princesses, glitter, and playing dress up. So why in the world would I refuse to tell her she's pretty? It's not that I don't call her beautiful, it's that I'm TRYING to use those moments to teach my daughter that her value is more than her appearance…..it's within her choices.
To be honest, I fall pray to the easy compliment as much as the next person. When she proudly shows me her dress up dress, shoes, and tiara or we are dressed in matching mommy and me outfits…..it's temping to say “You look so PRETTY!” and to return to whatever mundane household task I'm completing at the time. So what have I messaged my daughter? That she looks pretty. And while there is nothing WRONG with that……I'm trying my hardest to turn those moments into an opportunity for growth (for both of us).
What do I do? Reframe the compliment. “You look so pretty. I LOVE how you mixed all these colors together…..you are so creative….maybe you will be an artist when you grow up!” “You look so pretty. I love that you are wearing the shirt we bought at the museum last week. I loved spending that time together and hearing which artists were your favorites!”
Is my daughter pretty? Of course she is. As is YOUR daughter. But I want them both to know that what I value? Is so much more than their appearance.