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Thread: 4 yr olds self image - Plse help

  1. #1

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    Unhappy 4 yr olds self image - Plse help

    I'm so devastated. This evening DH was with DD while she was brushing her teeth in the bathroom and DD started spitting in the mirror. DH asked her to stop and she said to him "I'm spitting at me because I don't like me"

    I have no idea where this has come from or if it's normal. It definitely doesn't seem normal to me for a little girl to say that. She has said something similar once before but it was quite some time ago and she had been crying and didn't want to watch herself in her bedroom mirror so I thought maybe she was feeling a bit embarrassed. At the time I reassured her that I love her and we talked about all of her great qualities.

    We are firm believers in gentle parenting but I know the last few months I have been struggling to have as much patience as usual because I'm tired and have less time for DD with a baby to look after. I have made an effort to make time for just her and I but maybe not enough? I'm so heart-broken to think she could feel this way because I've been less available (emotionally and physically) and more grumpy.



    She is a very sensitive and emotional little girl (eg. if she accidently hurts someone she gets so upset and sobs) and I have been thinking lately that I want to look into how to help her become more resilient as I've been worried sick about how she will cope at school next year.

    The only thing that I can think of that may have contributed to this is the sense of competition that seems to be rife at kindy at the moment. DD is very concerned with who is the prettiest/oldest/has the longest hair etc. and believe me this has NOT come from home. I am very careful to praise being kind/thoughtful/helpful/caring as well as telling her how beautiful she is but she gets very upset if one of her friends says they are more pretty than her and it doesn't seem to matter what we say

    Have any of you experienced anything like this? Any advice would be so greatly appreciated. I so want to raise my lovely girl to be confident with who she is and I'm feeling like a total failure atm

  2. #2

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    First of all I don't really have any good advice, I've never really had to deal with it before.
    But my good friend's DD was a very skinny little girl from when she was about 2yrs old, which a lot of people felt the need to comment on, in front of and directly to her, not being nasty, just commenting about how skinny her legs were or how skinny she was all over. By the time she was 3 she had developed quite a complex and when she felt people were looking at her she would cover her legs and become quite withdrawn poor little thing was so self conscious. This went on for quite a few years. Eventually she didn't worry so much, I think it was just a really sensitive stage she went through.

    The little girl is now 21 and is a very confident young woman with no hang ups about body image.

    So here's hoping that it's just a stage for your DD too. Other kids can be harsh though specially the ones that come from homes where looks are a high priority

    I think you are doing all the right things to help her, if it doesn't get any better soon though maybe you could speak to a counsellor and see what they think before it gets too out of hand.

    Have you spoken to the teacher at kindy? Maybe one of the other little girls has been behaving that way towards her or others there? I would have thought at her age she would actually have to see that behaviour to be acting it out herself.

    Good luck hope it all works out

  3. #3

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    Hey Jandals

    Please don't feel like a failure because you're not! Outside influences (such as kindy) are so huge and I think it's so common for kids to feel down about themselves at some point.
    Our 3 year old sounds a bit similar to yours, and I too worry about her going to kindy, school etc. She can be very influenced by others.
    I would keep going as you are, remain positive with her and be confident with your parenting as it sounds like you are doing the right things!

    It's tough isn't it

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    try to stay away from the 'beautiful' comments (it's kinda hard, because when we as parents say it I think WE mean it in a more rounded way - like everything about them is beautiful/wonderful/amazing) if she is stuck on it as a superficial term.

    It sucks to have to deal with this so early though

  5. #5

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    Thanks for your comments ladies.

    Quote Originally Posted by willow5 View Post

    Have you spoken to the teacher at kindy? Maybe one of the other little girls has been behaving that way towards her or others there? I would have thought at her age she would actually have to see that behaviour to be acting it out herself.
    I haven't spoken to her teacher yet - but I will be making a time to see her next week to discuss it with her and see if she's noticed anything. It seems like such a harsh and extreme action for a little girl to come out with so I tend to agree that she may have seen someone else do it (or something similar).

    I said to DH tonight that we might need to look into seeing someone. I feel like I'm out of my depth here and I've had years of experience working with children (some of the time with 'at risk' children) but I guess I'm so emotionally involved here that I just don't know what to do. I so desperately want to do the right thing for both of my children and it's a bit frightening when I don't know what that is!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lulu View Post
    try to stay away from the 'beautiful' comments (it's kinda hard, because when we as parents say it I think WE mean it in a more rounded way - like everything about them is beautiful/wonderful/amazing) if she is stuck on it as a superficial term.

    It sucks to have to deal with this so early though
    Thanks Lulu. I'm going to have to become far more aware of what words I'm using when talking to DD. She is a very pretty little girl and she gets lots of compliments on her looks so I'm not sure how to handle that with others. I'm so painfully aware of the pressure on girls these days to be/look a certain way and it breaks my heart that my 4 year old is even aware of it.

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    I think it can take just one comment yanno "no I'M prettier than YOU" by a peer that can rock their socks at the wrong time (tired etc) With the 'pretty' comments, (from adults) I try to take pains to say - and she looks after her dollies so well (etc) Sometimes you need to remind adults it's not just about the pretty. *sigh.

    I also say things like - I love the colours you chose on that painting, I love to hear you sing, your cheeks are so soft, what a good helper you are.....anything that reflects the choices she makes or the actions my DD takes, rather than something she cannot help or change (like being a living doll ).

    I was lucky with my first, she hated that kind of attention and used to screw her face up deliberately. DD2 is a different story and I worry about her too.

    P.S - I wonder if I could use any more brackets???

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    Have you asked her why she doesn't like herself or if she agrees when another child believes that she is prettiest? Asking her can challenge her behaviour and thoughts sometimes.

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    Lulu - thanks for the suggestions. I try and keep pretty balanced with how I talk to her but obviously I need to be more conscious and drop anything to do with looks. She came in this morning asking me if she looked beautiful (she had got herself dressed for a birthday we have this morning). I said 'I love the clothes you have chosen and you've done a great job getting dressed'. But I think I probably would have usually said 'yes, you look lovely'. Time to take a good hard look at ourselves and our parenting I think. (And I'm guilty of being a bit free and easy with brackets too! They're so useful )

    Lady Zaidie - I asked her why she doesn't like herself and she just said 'I don't like myself in the mirror' when I said why, she just said 'Because' and didn't want to talk about it Good idea about asking her if she agrees. I will try that next time.

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    Hi Jandals. Gosh! I can't believe it starts so young. I grew up a bit of a tomboy - I wanted to be like my brother. My two eldest nieces didn't seem to go through this but their youngest sister is well, gosh how to put it nicely..... probably one of those little so and so's who are giving your DD a reason to worry about how she looks. Hmm, don't like to say it but my youngest niece is not a very nice little girl, unless we are all praising her looks and talents!!

    I don't really have any advice to offer, but I just wanted to show my support and say that parenting is hard and yep, sometimes we get things wrong but mostly we get it right. You seem to show your daughter how much you love her for being who she is as a little person and obviously you care enough to ask yourself "am I doing it right". It's hard watching your kids go through self doubt but I guess all we can do as parents is be there and try to reassure them.

    Goodness, I think I'm rambling and not at all getting my point across I keep re-reading it and it seems to be coming out wrong....argh!!

    In a nutshell: Jandals, you're doing a wonderful job as a mum and I'm sure that just because you're busy looking after bubs you are NOT in any way causing DDs self doubt! I agree that it is more likely caused by something she has seen at kindy.

  11. #11

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    DD1 is 4.5 and is always asking if she looks pretty or saying that someone has a prettier dress etc - it is doing my head in. I am sure it is from kinder and I try to bring it back around by talking to her about how well she has done other things, like how much she has improved at swimming or how helpful she was or what a kind big sister she is. Unfortunately she is focused on the "pretty". Realistically she is a very pretty girl but there will always be someone prettier, cleverer, skinnier - whatever. I am just trying to make her still like her for being herself.

  12. #12

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    :hugs: Parenting a girl can be difficult unfortunately, especially when it comes to their body image.

    I know from the age of 4 - 7 DD wanted to be white. The only dark skinned girl in her class, I'm white as a ghost I kept reassuring her she is beautiful just the way she is, inside and out. I also let her know, that when she becomes a teenager, all her friends are going to risk their life by sun baking to be have the coloured skin she has! Thankfully, we are over that stage now, but there are more issue's to come!

    Personally, I would be asking DD WHY she doesnt like herself, where she heard it from, talk to her calmly about it. Im sure at 4 she would be able to let you know? Then you can work on reassuring her and her self image and work out the next step from there.

    I hope you are able to find the answers you're looking for

  13. #13

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    I'm so sorry for my ridiculously late reply ladies I really appreciate all of your comments - life has just been so busy lately I haven't been on BB.

    We have booked in to see a psychologist that specialises in building resilience in kids. He is part of the Pathways program that runs in schools all over Australia. He did a talk at our local C & K and I was really impressed with what he had to say. He will be working with all of us - not just DD. I was worried about sending my 4 year old to "therapy" but he assures me his approach is family based. My plan is to come away with some great strategies to help DD through any rough patches life throws at her. And we all know there will be plenty of those Anyway, our first appointment is next weekend so I will keep you posted.

    Totally off subject - but what's with the new smilies. I'm not feeling the love for them...

    Thanks again for all of your support and kind words

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    Omg hun I dont have any advice my heart just broke when I read it I think do what you're doing booking her in etc. Build her up EVERY day

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    Hi Jandals, glad you've found someone you're comfortable with to help DD. So I guess she's still been a bit down on herself? Here's hoping things will pick up for her with some new strategies

    ...Also, the new smilies aren't are permanent thing I don't think. BB went down for a while on server change over and when it came back on some of the smilies had gone AWAL and been replaced by these strange stand-ins I'm with you not feeling much love for them either. Kelly's away on much needed hols, when she returns I think all be be restored to normal

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