As a mother of an 8 year old girl, this one really interests me. AND I have to say from the outset, that I am as guilty as anyone for doing this…the moment you are introduced to a friend’s daughter and you default to mentioning something about how pretty they are or how beautiful their hair is…
These things in themselves are not bad, but it would be good to shift the focus from their external appearance and instead engage them in more important conversation. Teaching them that their appearance is the first thing you notice can send a message that looks are more important than anything else.
In small and subtle ways we can turn this around with comments and questions that let them know that we are interested in what they think and what they like.
Here are 8 things to consider saying instead:
- How old are you? …Now, that must mean that you’re in about grade __? What’s your favourite subject at school?
- What’s your favourite colour? Has that always been your favourite colour?
- What’s your favourite thing to do?
- What are you reading at the moment? Have you read other books by that author?
- What type of music do you like to listen to? Do you like to sing along or dance around to it?
- What’s your favourite food?
- Discuss a current event that is coming up or happening…it could be Halloween, Easter, Olympics, Anzac Day etc.
- What’s your favourite holiday place? Do you prefer the country side or the beach?
Try some of these the next time you meet a little girl. This is a practiced skill and it may need to be a deliberate shift for the first little while but it is definitely worth it!