April 30, 2009

Self image issues at 3 years old? Updated

This morning daughter had a mini-meltdown because she couldn't wear a dress to school. Recently, more and more she has been asking to wear dresses and I realized that the other girls wear them almost every day. So, I'll let her wear a dress when the weather permits. This morning, however, the dress conversation took a completely different route because she insisted that she would not be a princess if she didn't wear a dress. THEN...she said that she wasn't beautiful because she wasn't a princess.

OMG....what am I supposed to do or tell her when I hear these comments. I tried to reassure her that she IS a princess regardless of what she wears and that she IS beautiful because beauty is not based on what you wear but the kind of person that you are. I'm not really sure whether my response made much sense to her because it may have been too high level. It shocked me that she made the dress issue a little deeper to what I would consider a self image issue. I am also amazed at the power of peer pressure of 3 year old girls!!! I cannot imagine what issues I'll be dealing with at 7 or 10 or 12 if self image is already an issue at 3.

Then I get to her class and without fail, I hear the discussion about who's in a dress and who isn't, so I could totally understand what she was going through. She wanted to go home with me. I felt/feel helpless and I don't know what to say to her to make her feel better. I guess the easy solution would be to let her wear a dress tomorrow, but there is so much more going on here.

Any suggestions and all suggestions are welcome??? I have about 4-5 hours to figure something out.

UPDATE - I let her wear a dress this morning. I'll work on the other issues a little bit at a time.

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Sally's World said...

I'm shocked..three year olds don't care unless its not pink and sparkly do they....gosh...I'm very big on letting the kids chose their clothes, even if they are not totally suitable, maybe a small compromise, but peer pressure's the wrong reason...I don't know what i would have done....wow, not v helpful was it...sorry!

DemMom said...

I don't really have a solution either, except just let her wear a dress. But we dealt with this too-I've had the EXACT same conversation with my now 5 year old. My advice is keep telling her that it is not about what she wears, but maybe also compromise and let her wear what she wants? Really, when in your life can you get away with mismatched clothes and shoes? At 3 it's cute, at 30 it's crazy!
She'll grow out of it. Or, at least the dress part. The peer pressure, I'm not so sure. The trick is that we have to teach them how to deal with that. And the line "It doesn't matter what they think," is never going to work (think about when your mother said it to you!).

www.JusticeJonesie.com/blog said...

Yesterday I forced daugther to wear the dress I got on consignment (from my post a few weeks back). she loves dresses but for some reason, doesn't like that particular dress. Anyway, she was very upset with me but i persisted because the other dress was not suitable. Long story short, after school she made sure she told me that she saw so and so wearing the exact same dress at lunch time and that she was very upset with me for making her wear it.
Can you believe it???

In otherwords, I have no good advice for you.

Justice Fergie said...

I've been there! You remember my "fitting in" issues with Chatterbox. Is was more when she turned 4 though. 3 is still early! Like Sally's World said, Giggles (who is 3) doesn't really care unless it's not pink and sparkly. THEN she cares.

I say, let her wear the dress. Chatterbox went through the exact opposit where she ONLY wants to wear pants. So what. Wear the pants. If it makes her feel confident and happy, then let her do it. I WOULD talk to her about it (in 3 year old terms) and say: "You can wear a dress, but only if YOU want to wear the dress." In other words, get her to understand that she shouldn't wear a dress just b/c someone else is wearing a dress, but because SHE wants to. Does that make sense?

About the "princess" comment - I think you said the right things. I'm dealing with something similar now: "So and so says that Dora is for BABIES" and I know good and well that my child LIKES Dora. So I say: "So and so is wrong. YOU like Dora and you're not a baby, right?"

It's all crazy. And it will only get worse from here on out!

Tara said...

Oh geez. This is like that post I wrote a while back when some child told my daughter that she didn't like her. And they're 2!

I guess I would let her wear the dress. But are there any princesses that don't wear dresses? I remember thinking Princess Jasmine (from Aladdin) was cool because she didn't dress like all the other princesses. Didn't she wear pants sometimes? I guess I would tell my daughter that princesses are princesses because of who they are not what they wear and that she's so fly she could wear ANYTHING and shine those other chicks under the table. LOL. Oh, Lord, can you tell I'm not ready for this???

DemMom said...

I have to give you another comment and tell you that this morning my 5 year old Bug cried and threw herself on her bed because she was worried that "people would laugh at her" because of her outfit. Which, by the way, was totally cute (and she picked out). Once she calmed down I told her that what other people think is not important, but she said she "doesn't like to be laughed at." Who can argue with that?

Shanta Hayes said...

I'm so glad my girls wear uniforms. Although, I get grief about that too, but not too often, and its easy to just say, "hey that's the rules, you can change when you get home". Sundays are hilarious though, getting ready for church is ubberinteresting :) My five year old is a real free spirit, so I have to carefully choose my words, when the orange shirt, green skirt, pink socks and brown shoes need to be "rethought".

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