A few years ago, I was swimming at a public pool, long before I had children. I had just gotten out of the pool, along with all the other patrons, and I was in the change room. A gaggle of girls were also getting changed, around the age of 7 or 8 years old. I believe it was a birthday party.
In any case, after the girls were dressed, one of the girls started brushing her hair. No biggie, right? Well, apparently it was. Did you know that if you brush just the ends of your hair (you know, when you’re trying to get a knot out of your hair), that it can damage your hair and cause split ends? Well, I learned that little tidbit that day, and so did everyone else in the change room. This girl’s mom started yelling at her, explaining what she was doing wrong – in front of all her friends. She then proceeded to take the brush from her, and do it for her.
What caused me to remember this scene, nearly 10 years later? I was embarrassed and sad for her daughter. We try our very best to practice peaceful, respectful parenting. This one instance (maybe the mom was having an off day?) is one of the reasons why. I felt so bad that she was chastised in front of her friends, for such a silly, insignificant reason.
I want my daughters to have autonomy over their bodies. It’s our job to guide them. Sure, she could have calmly and quietly explained to her daughter why she should brush from the top down, but to demean her, then do it for her, stripped her of her autonomy, in that situation.
It is not uncommon for Little Miss to be walking around in a dress regardless of the weather. I encourage her to wear long sleeves and pants underneath in the winter. Today, a chilly, rainy day, she didn’t want to wear pants. I asked her if she wanted to check to see how cold it was, and once she had done that, she changed her mind. But I let her choose.
Giving them autonomy over their bodies means that if someone tries to coerce them to do something they don’t want to, they will be more comfortable speaking up, and saying no. It also helps them understand why we dress a certain way for various climates, and helps them in their decision making process, allowing them to become more confident.
P.S. Here is a photo of Little Miss with her first French braids 🙂 They were, of course, at her request 😉