The language we use to speak to children is extremely important, children act as ‘sponges’ that soak up and interpret the information we give to them and can perceive our words in multitudes of ways. The article sited below, generated towards parents, highlights the importance of the types of conversations we have with children and how to direct conversations away from focusing on their appearance and more on their intellect.
The article mentions how adults are socialized to greet children by commenting on their looks as a means of ‘boosting their self-esteem’. This might sound like telling a young girl how beautiful her new dress looks on her and asking her to twirl around to show you how it spins. The message behind this type of communication instantly tells this young girl that looks are a priority. Rather than beginning a conversation with a young person about the clothes he or she is wearing or how nice their new haircut looks, the article stresses asking them about what they are interested in. This might mean asking them about their favorite books or asking them what they like to learn about. Starting conversations in this way lets children understand that their unique interests are important and encourages them to be excited about things that positively stimulate their minds.
What this article is missing in my opinion is the importance of messages that we send to young boys in similar ways. However much our society might make body image and dieting a ‘female issue’ it is a concern with men as well as women. Young boys can still interpret and receive messages from adults that lead them to prioritizing how their body should look. I would also mention that this article sends a prevalent message that people should completely steer away from having conversations with children about their looks and their body. I feel that it is important to have conversations with children about their bodies and should be done in a way that teaches children about how to love their bodies and themselves.
‘How to talk to little girls’ – Latina Fatale, Viva la Mujer on 7/21/2011
Accessed – August, 22, 2013 via Facebook