Tuesday, April 19, 2011

I don't want bruises!

My sweet, sensitive Elaina girl gets particularly upset if her hair isn't done just right or if her clothes don't look or fit well. If she's especially over-tired while getting ready for her day it can result in meltdowns if she doesn't have things her way. And I'm all about self-expression but minus the whining. I've never told her or expressed to her that she can't wear her hair or clothes a certain way unless it is improper and even then I'm gentle.

Well tonight she just started freaking out. I think she was tired on top of it but she had a meltdown about the oh-so-normal bruises on her shins from being a kid and playing hard at school. She kept rubbing her legs and bawling, telling me she didn't want bruises on her legs!

Ladies I had NO idea what to do. I just smiled and told her all kids get bruises on their legs from playing and crawling around and just from being kids. I told her I get bruises when I run into things. I played it lightly but her vanity is starting to concern me. Is this normal for an almost-6-year-old?! I try to tell my girls how much they are worth without resorting to physical attributes all the time unless I know they struggle with a particular attribute (like Abigail hating having her hair brushed - I tell her how beautiful and shiny it is when Mommy brushes it). I constantly build them up because I know how hard it is to be a girl and struggle with self-doubt and insecurity. I was an outcast as a kid but Elaina is Miss Popular. It shows me that even a child who does have many friends has insecurities; maybe even more than an outcast because they're in the limelight and under scrutiny.

Well in the end when I ran out of things to say in trying to encourage her that bruises on her shins are a normal part of childhood I told her that as it warms up and her friends break out their shorts and skirts to check out their legs. I told her I bet they'll have bruises on their legs too! Elaina is the only Caucasian girl in her class, the rest are all Hispanic so I think it also just shows up more prominently on Elaina. I also pulled Zoƫ's legs out of her sleeper and showed Elaina how her baby sister, who is a wild thing and gets into everything, has bruises on her legs from climbing, crawling and just being a toddler! It didn't help.

I think I'm going to write her teacher a note so she can help me in encouraging Elaina that it is normal and perhaps they can have a class discussion. I feel so inadequate sometimes. God gave me three daughters and I need to learn quick how to help them with a strong sense of self-esteem and self-worth. I'm considering getting the book Bringing Up Girls by Dr. James Dobson. Any other recommendations? Any blogs out there that are specific to raising girls in God's ways?


BrandiH said...

Wow that's a tough one. I wish I had some advice for you. Maybe I should be thankful that Lillian plays with little boys all day long.

just me, dawn said...

no answers here, but i think you are doing a good job! i just read cinderella ate my daughter, and walked away a little depressed. but also realized that some of these things are nromal, perhaps someone at school made a comment? in the book, if you tell them they are beautiful too much you are reenforcing that they are valued for their looks, if you never tell them, you are implicitly telling them they are ugly.....i took away that we all have to do the very best we can, and like you seek help from others who have come across the same issues.
word verification: prell LOL

Vixbil said...

Wow, such a hard one. I don't know what you can do apart from what you already are, are there any caucasian girls in your church that wouldn't mind showing her their legs esp if they are the same age or even a year older??

Anne Elizabeth said...

I would encourage you to have Daniel tell her that verse about being fearfully and wonderfully made. My dad told me that verse a lot growing up and it really did help me, even though I still struggled. I still revert back to that verse as an adult. That bible that nonna bought the girls has some good lessons on self esteem. Also I am sure you are already doing this, but start laying hands on Boo when she is sleeping and pray that God will show her how He sees her. I do that a lot with Ashlee. I think that bringing up girls book sounds really good. I'd like to get that one and the boys one.

The Mommy said...

I've thought about reading that book too! maybe you should do a book club!
I have no advice to give you on this matter. Parenting is just never easy.

Joy@WhenDoesDaddyComeHome said...

Vix - all the kids at church are African or African-American. ;-) We live in a very culturally diverse area.

The Mommy - a book club would be fun!

Amber @ Striving For 31 said...

I have a sensitive girl too so let me know if you figure this out. Ally's big thing is scratches. The tiniest little scratch will send her to the floor in tears. She is SO dramatic! I get really aggravated sometimes because the little things are such a big issue with her! But it's weird because she doesn't freak out about being dirty - the girl can roll in the mud and have a blast! But if she gets a teeny tiny scrape that isn't even bleeding, it's like Armageddon. I don't get it!

Mel said...

Joy, "Bringing Up Girls" is the first book I bought on my Kindle! I have loved it, though I've been slow going since I hit about 80% done b/c I've gotten immersed in a few other things since I started and the latter chapters are more geared towards school aged girls and don't apply so much to us yet. (lots of great advice about bullying, purity and the like)

Dobson points out that girls simply have at the core a overwhelming need to feel beautiful. It is an urge we all have and cannot control and as parents we tell our daughters how lovely they are every single chance we get. (especially daddies!) I love my parents, but I do not remember them ever telling me I was pretty as a child and I was one of the most insecure young women of all time, I believe. I made a LOT of mistakes thanks to those insecurities.

You are such a good mom. Keep the word of God in those girls' hearts, pray for their innocence and they will work out for themselves what is truly important in life. I might even offer a little concealer to help cover bruises if she feels that concerned about them.