Parents' Biggest Mistakes

Parents' Biggest Mistakes
Sarah worries because her young daughter won't stop telling people that she's cute!
Sarah writes:

Dear Dr. Phil,

I have a beautiful 3-year-old daughter, Jessica. I love to tell her how pretty she is. But the other day we were in the store, and she went up to a perfect stranger and said, 'See how pretty I am.' I try to stop telling her she is, but she is so darn cute, it is hard. So many young girls, especially teenagers, never feel like they are pretty enough. I know she is only 3, but how do I get my little girl to have self-confidence without making the mistake of her thinking she is "all that" and that looks are all that matters?


A Concerned Mom
"The problem is she is way cute. You're just going to have to live with that, Mom," Dr. Phil teases. "But the truth is, children learn to define themselves based on what we tell them, what we focus on. And right now, you're just saying, 'You're cute, cute, cute,' and so that seems to be the currency for her."

He says that Sarah needs to balance the compliments she gives her daughter. "Make sure she knows that she's really smart, that she's really sweet, that she's really nice and has a lot to offer to people," he advises. "You might also begin to teach her some social skills where she finds something nice about someone else that she can comment on."

Parents need to socialize their children at a young age, and they can do this through role-playing. "You can play dress up or whatever and she has to find something about you that she can comment on: 'You have a really nice smile. That's a pretty dress.' Anything that gets her going," Dr. Phil suggests.