Christine Carter on “Do you think I’m beautiful?”

What should you say when your children ask about their physical appearance? Parenting expert Christine Carter has a smart, thoughtful answer.

Mom, am I pretty?

Dad, would you say I’m good looking?

You’re likely to get questions like this at some point — and you may be caught off guard. The key, says Raising Happiness author Christine Carter, is to answer positively and honestly with specific examples of qualities that are within your child’s control. 

Video transcript: "The hardest self-esteem questions, I think, have to do with appearance. When kids come to you and they say, ‘Do you think I’m beautiful?’,right, because that is something that’s not in their control, in a lot of ways. And, I think the important thing is to, of course, still answer them honestly. But as a parent, you always think your child is beautiful. And you always have lots of evidence. And much of that evidence are things that are within their control. We all know that character is what makes people beautiful. Not their hair. Not having the latest skinny jeans. And kids need help distinguishing that. So you can say, ‘Oh my gosh, I do, of course I think you’re beautiful. And here’s what I think is beautiful about you.’ And list all the things that really are beautiful about that child. With really specific things that are within their control. And then, you know, if your 11-year-old girl says, ‘But Mommy, I really want to know if you think I have pretty hair,’ say, ‘Yes, I do think you have beautiful hair, but I think your eyes are even more beautiful, and here’s why: when you smile… Or, what the most beautiful thing I think about you is that belly laugh that you just did a minute ago that everyone in the room also laughed.’ So you just want to keep bringing it back to things that are within their control, even if it’s ‘Is my face pretty? Is my hair pretty?’"

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