Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Mirroring Positive Self Image for Toddlers

Welcome to the October 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Instilling a Healthy Self-Image
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared confessions, wisdom, and goals for helping children love who they are. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


Right now, BabyE's self image reflects off of my countenance and behavior towards him. At this age the best way I can make sure he has a positive self image is to take a gentle and positive approach in my daily interactions with him. Lots of hugs, kisses, and cuddles will let him know he is valuable. Responding to his big toddler emotions will let him know he is important. 

Mirroring Positive Self Image for Toddlers Baby Kissing Mirror
Mirroring Positive Self Image for Toddlers

The most essential definition of this style of gentle parenting is empathy and respect. This is consistent with what Jesus taught is the second greatest commandment: Love your neighbor as yourself. This makes each parenting decision easy to evaluate. How would I like to be treated in this situation? Am I treating my child in a sub-standard way just because he is younger, smaller, or less able to communicate? 

The thing I like to keep in mind is that I am raising this child to become an adult. I hope he will be one that has empathy and respect for his family, friends, and the world. I'm not raising him to be a three, four, or five year old who obeys his mom and dad the first time every time. That'd be convenient, but that isn't the end goal. Instead I hope teach him to always think for himself rather than blindly obey. I want him to question everything, even what I teach him. Most of all I want him to be who God created and calls him to be.

The most important thing I can do as a parent is nurture and preserve my relationship with him. I hope to grow a person that I like and respect and want to spend time with. He will be a minor for a mere 17 more years, a child for far less. However, I will be his mom, God willing, for many decades. I look forward to our relationship then as the continuation of the one we are now founding. Even thought he is now so young, there is no room for disregard. With empathy and respect I will mirror the self worth I hope he will grow to see.

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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
(This list will be updated by afternoon October 9 with all the carnival links.)
  • Why I Walk Around Naked — Meegs at A New Day talks about how she embraces her own body so that her daughter might embrace hers.
  • What I Am Is Not Who I Am — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama discusses her views on the importance of modeling WHO she is for her daughter and not WHAT she sees in the mirror.
  • Carnival of Natural Parenting: Verbs vs. Adjectives — Alisha at Cinnamon & Sassafras tries hard to compliment what her son does, not who he is.
  • The Naked Family — Sam at Love Parenting talks about how nudity and bodily functions are approached in her home.
  • How She'll See Herself — Rosemary at Rosmarinus Officinalis discusses some of the challenges of raising a daughter in our culture and how she's hoping to overcome them.
  • Self Esteem and all it's pretty analogies — Musings from Laura at Pug in the Kitchen on what she learned about self-esteem in her own life and how it applies to her parenting.
  • Beautiful — Tree at Mom Grooves writes about giving her daughter the wisdom to appreciate her body and how trying to be a role model taught Tree how to appreciate her own.
  • Do As I Say, Not As I Do: Nurturing A Healthy Body Image — Christy at Eco Journey in the Burbs is changing perceptions about her body so that she may model living life with a positive, healthy body image for her three young daughters.
  • Some{BODY} to LoveKate Wicker has faced her own inner demons when it comes to a poor body image and even a clinical eating disorder, and now she wants to help her daughters to be strong in a world that constantly puts girls at risk for losing their true selves. This is Kate's love letter to her daughters reminding them to not only accept their bodies but to accept themselves as well in every changing season of life.
  • They Make Creams For That, You Know — Destany at They Are All of Me writes about celebrating her natural beauty traits, especially the ones she passed onto her children.
  • New Shoes for Mama — Kellie of Our Mindful Life, guest posting at Natural Parents Network, is getting some new shoes, even though she is all grown up…
  • Raising boys with bodily integrity — Lauren at Hobo Mama wants her boys to understand their own bodily autonomy — so they'll respect their own and others'.
  • Sowing seeds of self-love in our children — After struggling to love herself despite growing up in a loving family, Shonnie at Heart-Led Parenting has suggestions for parents who truly want to nurture their children's self-esteem.
  • Subtle Ways to Build a Healthy Self-Image — Emily at S.A.H.M i AM discusses the little things she and her husband do every day to help their daughter cultivate a healthy self-image.
  • On Barbie and Baby Bikinis: The Sexualization of Young Girls — Justine at The Lone Home Ranger finds it difficult to keep out the influx of messages aimed at her young daughters that being sexy is important.
  • Undistorted — Focusing on the beauty and goodness that her children hold, Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children watches them grow, loved and undistorted.
  • Off The Hook — Arpita at Up, Down and Natural sheds light on the journey of infertility, and how the inability to get pregnant and stay pregnant takes a toll on self image…only if you let it. And that sometimes, it feels fantastic to just let yourself off the hook.
  • Going Beyond Being An Example — Becky at Old New Legacy discusses three suggestions on instilling healthy body image: positivity, family dinners, and productivity.
  • Raising a Confident Kid — aNonymous at Radical Ramblings describes the ways she's trying to raise a confident daughter and to instil a healthy attitude to appearance and self-image.
  • Instilling a Healthy Self Image — Laura at This Mama's Madness hopes to promote a healthy self-image in her kids by treating herself and others with respect, honesty, and grace.
  • Stories of our Uniqueness — Casey at Sesame Seed Designs looks for a connection to the past and celebrates the stories our bodies can tell about the present.
  • Helping My Boy Build a Healthy Body Image — Lyndsay at ourfeminist{play}school offers readers a collection of tips and activities that she uses in her journey to helping her 3-year-old son shape a healthy body image.
  • Eat with Joy and Thankfulness: A Letter to my Daughters about Food — Megan at The Boho Mama writes a letter to her daughters about body image and healthy attitudes towards food.
  • Helping Our Children Have Healthy Body Images — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares information about body image, and her now-adult daughter tells how she kept a healthy body image through years of ballet and competitive figure skating.
  • Namaste — Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment shares how at barely 6 years old, her daughter has begun to say, "I'm not beautiful." And while it's hard to listen to, she also sees it as a sign her daughter is building her self-image in a grassroots kind of way.
  • 3 Activities to Help Instill a Healthy Self-Image in Your Child — Explore the changing ideals of beauty, create positive affirmations, and design a self-image awareness collage. Dionna at Code Name: Mama shares these 3 ideas + a pretty affirmation graphic you can print and slip in your child's lunchbox.
  • Beautiful, Inside and Out — It took a case of adult-onset acne for Kat of MomeeeZen to find out her parenting efforts have resulted in a daughter that is truly beautiful, inside and out.
  • Mirroring Positive Self Image for Toddlers — Shannon at GrowingSlower reflects on encouraging positive self image in even the youngest members of the family.
  • How I hope to instill a healthy body image in my two girls — Raising daughters with healthy body image in today's society is no small task, but Xela at The Happy Hippie Homemaker shares how choosing our words carefully and being an example can help our children learn to love their bodies.
  • Self Image has to Come from WithinMomma Jorje shares all of the little things she does to encourage healthy attitudes in her children, but realizes she can't give them their self images.
  • Protecting the Gift — JW from True Confessions of a Real Mommy wants you to stop thinking you need to boost your child up: they think they are wonderful all on their own.
  • Learning to Love Myself, for my Daughter — Michelle at Ramblings of Mitzy addresses her own poor self-image.
  • Nurturing An Innate Sense of Self — Marisa at Deliberate Parenting shares her efforts to preserve the confidence and healthy sense of self they were born with.
  • Don't You Love Me, Mommy?: Instilling Self-Esteem in Young Children After New Siblings Arrive — Jade at Seeing Through Jade Glass But Dimly hopes that her daughter will learn to value herself as an individual rather than just Momma's baby
  • Exercising is FUN — Amy W. at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work talks about modeling for her children that exercising is FUN and good for body and soul.
  • Poor Little Chicken — Kenna at A Million Tiny Things gets her feathers ruffled over her daughter's clothing anxiety.
  • Loving the skin she's in — Mama Pie at Downside Up and Outside In struggles with her little berry's choice not to celebrate herself and her heritage.
Image by roseoftimothywoods on Flikr. This post is linked up with Natural Parents Network.


  1. Raising our kids to be adults (not obedient toddlers, preschoolers, etc) - it can be hard to remember in the moment, but it's so important! I love how that intention is shaping your (and my) choices!

    1. And thank goodness I can always ask forgiveness and start again when I fall far short of my intentions and ideals! :)

  2. Lovely insights. Things we should all keep in mind.

  3. Empathy and respect go a long way and are the foundations for so much when it comes to our little ones. Lovely post, thanks for sharing!

  4. I love this way of thinking about why empathy is so important. I agree that it is important to raise a child who can think for him or herself! Thank you for writing with us.

  5. This is the first post I've read that's really about a toddler and it's wonderful. I think we did those things instinctively, but I love the mindfulness you have around it.

  6. I have to agree that treating our children with respect is a huge step in the right direction! I want my children to know they are worth my time... and so much more.

  7. Such a great reminder... our little ones first develop self-image based off how we treat them. It is so important to treat them with empathy and respect so that they know they are valuable, worthy, wonderful little people! Love this beautiful insight :)

  8. Being mindful of our interactions with our little ones are key in how they learn to respect themselves and others. I love your point of view.

  9. Empathy & respect — perfect keywords to keep in mind! I totally agree.

  10. A very pertinent post on the topic of patience - thank you for stopping by the NPN Blog hop! I particularly love these quotes...

    The most essential definition of this style of gentle parenting is empathy and respect. This is consistent with what Jesus taught is the second greatest commandment: Love your neighbor as yourself.

    Most of all I want him to be who God created and calls him to be.

    Thank you for sharing your perspectives on how to cultivate a relationship with your child where he will want to nurture himself and others... truly a mirror experience just as Jesus recommended. Blessings to you and yours.


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