Recently over dinner, a friend posed the question of when do kids make the switch from being All-Me-And-I-Am-Awesome-All-The-Time to, well, not. In other words, when do our Littles lose the narcissistic yet adorable bravado that so many toddlers and preschoolers embody? My immediate, internal follow-up? How do we help them retain at least some of it?

You see, my 3.5yo is pretty full of herself, but in all the best ways – ways I hope she never abandons. She has a style and spark all her own, and her self-assured approach to life is commendable. I mean, really; it takes some serious chops to pull off a pink plaid hat, Darth Vader jammies and sparkly, rainbow-hued palm tree shoes (I am sorry you cannot see the shoes!), but that is just a normal afternoon of awesome in the world of Miss R.

Unique fashion sense aside, what I love most about this uber-confident little being is that she views herself first and foremost as “big and strong” (which is extra great because she has forever been my 10th percentile peanut, so big, she’s really not). At the grocery store one morning, I was unloading the cart onto the conveyer belt when all of the sudden, here came the gallon of milk in her hands – up, out, and safely deposited with the rest of our items. My eyes got huge as I congratulated and thanked her, to which she beamed and declared, “I am BIG and STRONG!” and then promptly showed me her muscles. In case you’re wondering, this refrain and pose combo is, again, normal in her world.

My question then (and now) is how do we sustain this version of normal? How long can I keep my daughter believing that not only is she big and strong, but also that this is an incredibly important way for a growing girl to view herself in today’s world?

Goodness knows I have not always excelled at such positive self-talk. In fact, a positive body image is something I continue to work on every day, and you can bet that I do so as much for my daughter as I do for myself. Keeping my mouth shut when I look in the mirror and see something I don’t particularly like? That’s for both of us. Smiling kindly at my husband whenever he refers to my bed-headed-yoga-pants-wearing self as “Pretty Mama?” That’s for both of us, too. [Disclaimer: I am a certified yoga teacher, so I may have some leeway on the pants.] And constantly telling my sweet, sweet girl that she is strong and brave and smart and beautiful? Always reminders to myself to take in the exact same messages, too. Every single time.

Currently I still have no answer for how long this phase of “No problem; I’m the best!” (verbatim, a response I got from her last week after thanking her for picking up books in the living room) will last. I suppose, like anything related to parenting, it depends on the babe in question.

I also still have no clear idea as to how to sustain Baby Girl’s positive self-talk and self-image. While I do not desire her to spend the rest of her life with an inflated sense of worth or ego, I do want to find a way to help her hold on to love and kindness, particularly in regards to her own head, heart, and body.

Something tells me that clear answers and unchanging rules are not going to come with this one. Body image, self-worth, and keeping everything positive but real? That is a lifetime of work. Valuable, important, and forever work. 

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

If you liked this, you'll love our book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available now!

Order Now

Check out our new Keepsake Companion Journal that pairs with our So God Made a Mother book!

Order Now
So God Made a Mother's Story Keepsake Journal

Jenni Welsch

A South Dakota girl at heart, Jenni has made a home in Hastings with her cool Nebraska guy and their four sweet babes. On top of being a stay at home mama, she is also a certified yoga teacher and part-time college writing instructor; writing on her blog keeps all of her roles and loves in life together. Before Jenni's oldest fell head over heels for Angry Birds, he once had a thing for dinosaurs. The Maiasaura is a dinosaur named for being a "good mother lizard" which is where she draws inspiration for her blog about mamahood, The Modern Maiasaura, in which some days are more good and others more lizard. You can read more and follow along with all of Jenni's latest kid antics, yoga adventures, and mama-isms at http://http://themodernmaiasaura.com/

Organized Sports Aren’t Everything

In: Kids, Motherhood
Young girl with Alpaca, color photo

Today I watched my little girl walk an alpaca. His name is Captain. Captain is her favorite. He’s my favorite too. I met his owner on Instagram of all places. She thought I was in college; I thought she was a middle-aged woman. Turns out, she is in high school, and I am a middle-aged woman. This random meeting led to a blessing. We call it “llama lessons.” We take llama lessons every other week. It’s an hour away on the cutest hobby farm. Our “teacher” is Flora, who boards her llamas at the alpaca farm. She wants to teach...

Keep Reading

I Had to Learn to Say “I’m Sorry” to My Kids

In: Kids, Motherhood, Teen, Tween
Mom hugs tween daughter

My two oldest kiddos are at the front end of their teen years. I remember that time in my own life. I was loud, somewhat dramatic, I let my hormones control me, and I never—ever—apologized. This last part was because no one ever really taught me the value of apology or relationship repair. Now, I could do some parent blaming here but let’s be real, if you were a kid whose formative years were scattered between the late ’80s and early ’90s, did you get apologies from your parents? If so, count that blessing! Most parents were still living with...

Keep Reading

5 Things Your Child’s Kindergarten Teacher Wants You To Know

In: Kids, Motherhood
Child raising hand in kindergarten class

I am a teacher. I have committed my life to teaching children. Of course, before I began this career, I had visions of standing in front of a group of eager-eyed children and elaborating on history, science, and math lessons. I couldn’t wait to see the “lightbulb” moments when students finally understood a reading passage or wrote their first paper. And then I had my first day. Children are not cut out of a textbook (shocking, I know) but as a young 23-year-old, it knocked me right off my feet. I was thrown into the lion’s den, better known as...

Keep Reading

To the Extended Family That Shows Up: We Couldn’t Do This Without You

In: Kids, Living, Motherhood
Family visiting new baby in a hospital room

This picture—my heart all but bursts every time I see it.  It was taken five years ago on the day our daughter was born. In it, my husband is giving her her very first bath while our proud extended family looks on. It was a sweet moment on a hugely special day, but gosh–what was captured in this photo is so much more than that. This photo represents everything I could have ever hoped for my kids: That they would have an extended family who shows up in their lives and loves them so deeply.  That they would have grandparents,...

Keep Reading

You’re Almost Grown, But You’re Always Welcome Back Home

In: Kids, Motherhood
Teen in room studying with computer and smartphone

Dear child, In the days before you could walk or talk, there were times when you would wail—when my rocking and shushing and bouncing were seemingly futile—but it didn’t matter. Each day and night, multiple times, I always picked you up and welcomed you back into my arms. As a toddler and a preschooler, you had some pretty epic meltdowns. There were times when you would thrash and scream, and all I could do was stand by and wait for the storm to blow over. Eventually, you would run to me, and I would welcome you back with a warm embrace....

Keep Reading

No One Warned Me About the Last Baby

In: Baby, Kids, Motherhood
Mother holding newborn baby, black-and-white photo

No one warned me about the last baby. When I had my first, my second, and my third, those first years were blurry from sleep deprivation and chaos from juggling multiple itty-bitties. But the last baby? There’s a desperation in that newborn fog to soak it up because there won’t be another. No one warned me about the last baby. Selling the baby swing and donating old toys because we wouldn’t need them crushed me. I cried selling our double jogger and thought my heart would split in two when I dropped off newborn clothes. Throwing out pacifiers and bottles...

Keep Reading

Parents Are Terrible Salespeople for Parenting

In: Kids, Motherhood
Tired mother with coffee cup on table, child sitting next to her

As the years of fertility start to wane, many of my childless peers are confronted with the question, “Should I have kids?” With hesitation, they turn to us parents who, frankly, seem overwhelmingly unhappy. They ask sheepishly, “Is it worth it?” We lift our heads up, bedraggled, bags under our eyes, covered in boogers and sweat and spit up, we mutter, “Of course! It’s so fulfilling!” It’s like asking a hostage if they like their captor. Sure, it’s great. We love them. But our eyes are begging for liberation. Save me, please. I haven’t slept through the night in years....

Keep Reading

Soak in the Moments because Babies Don’t Keep

In: Kids, Motherhood, Tween
Roller coaster photo, color photo

I love marking the moments, the ones that count—making a note and storing them for memory. But I often miss out on them when it comes to our oldest. ⁣ ⁣The day he wanted to be baptized, I was at home with another kiddo who was sick. He called me from church excitedly, emphasizing he was ready and didn’t want to wait. I couldn’t argue with that, so I watched him go underwater through videos my husband and sweet friends in the congregation took. ⁣ ⁣On the day of his fifth-grade graduation, we found ourselves at the pediatrician’s office. Instead...

Keep Reading

Sometimes a Kid Just Needs a Sick Day

In: Kids, Motherhood
Little boy outside, color photo

My middle son stayed home from school today. He said he was sick. I’m not sure that is the truth. I was lucky enough to have a mom who was an amazing caretaker, especially when you were sick. She pulled out all the stops. A cozy clean space to be, a thermos with ice cold juice by your side, Mrs. Grass’s soup, and Days of Our Lives on the screen while she tidied up the house. It was the best feeling in the world to be home and cozy with my mom when I was sick. It felt cozy and...

Keep Reading

Sometimes We Need Someone to Just Sit With Us in Our Struggle

In: Kids, Motherhood
Sad woman sits on floor, black and white image

Early this morning, I told (yelled is more accurate) my sons to get up with the same furious ferocity I use every morning when I realize they should be ready to go, but are still unconsciously snoozing away. One son lazily said, “I’m up, Mom” (even though he was very much not up). The other son, who typically has no problems getting up, had overslept and immediately freaked out, thinking he would be late to school. He proceeded to have a mini-meltdown from the dark recesses of his bedroom. That overflowed into the hallway where I found him lying face-down,...

Keep Reading