how we talk to our girls“She’s such a chunker!”

“She’s so tiny — I barely remember when my kids were that small.”

“She’s going to be a BIG girl!”

“She has SO MUCH hair!”

In the span of an hour, I heard each one of these comments about my 10-week-old daughter’s body last weekend. Given that she measured between the 50th and 60th percentiles for height and weight at her last doctor’s visit, her size is not high on my list of worries. (As for her hair, it IS pretty remarkable, so we get that comment on a daily basis. And while it’s a bit shallow, I don’t lose sleep over it.)

That said, with all of our baggage about weight and appearances, I’d like to shield my daughter from comments on her appearance for as long as I can. Because how we talk to our girls matters.

Instead, here are some phrases I try to use with my daughter as often as possible. 

You’re so strong!

When she holds her head up for extended periods of time or grasps my necklace tightly (or my husband’s chest hair — ouch!).

You’re so curious!

When she looks around the room, taking in all the people, colors, sounds, and sights.

You’re so brave!

When she lets me strip her down and change her diaper, exposing her to cold air and an even colder wipe.

You’re so patient!

When she waits for her pacifier, blanket, or next bottle of food. 

You’re so loving!

When she snuggles into my neck for comfort.

You’re so happy!

When she coos and smiles at me (OK, or at strangers — the girl’s not particularly picky when looking at a smiling face).

You’re trying so hard!

When she struggles painfully with tummy time and cries, wanting to be picked up.

The powerful Always Super Bowl commercials in 2015 reminded us about more than just the strength we women possess. They reminded us that the words we choose matter. Words matter so much that pre-teen girls’ self-esteem typically plummets as they enter puberty, mostly due to their perception of society’s expectations about their appearance. It takes years, and a lot of concerted effort, to recover. The way we talk to our girls matters.

At 3 months old, my daughter may seem too young for this type of praise. But for now, this parenting practice is more for me than it is for her. I’m hopeful that practicing now will get me in the right habit to compliment and comment on the things that matter as she grows up.


  1. Great post! I totally agree. I always try to tell my little lady how smart, patient, caring and everything else that she is.

  2. Since birth, my daughter’s have been told how smart they are. I also praise them for tasks with phrases like;” you’re doing well stacking ” or great job counting. I don’t want to build false confidence but I do want them to feel like smart , talented, beautiful girls.

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