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How to Teach Little Girls Modesty and Femininity

by Carolyn Robbins, studioD

Turn on the television and you'll see 4 or 5-year-old girls shaking their booties for a dance competition. The sex appeal once reserved for adult movie stars is being adopted by young child actors, dancers and models. In such an environment, it can be difficult to teach little girls about modesty and femininity. Remember that children always learn best from their parent's example. Do your best to model virtue and beauty. Remind the girls' father that his role in their formation is indispensable, too.

Make a list of all the things that things women can accomplish. Women can become mothers, scientists, ballerinas or world leaders. Give examples of women your girls know personally or women who are public figures. Make a second list of your girl's unique characteristics. For instance, your daughter might have beautiful blue eyes, get good grades and play soccer.

Define modesty in terms of appearance and virtue. Most little girls will respond to examples from their favorite stories. For instance, you might describe modesty as dressing beautifully "like a princess." Help them to understand that modesty is something interior, too. It means to be humble about your accomplishments and to avoid bragging.

Discuss the ground rules for dress in your home. For instance, skirts above the knee or tight pants might be off limits. Remember that you will have to follow whatever rules you set for your daughters. Children are very good at detecting double standards.

Involve the girls' father in discussions about modesty and femininity whenever possible. A father's influence on his daughter's self-esteem, identity and emotional maturity cannot be overestimated, as little girls tend to model their relationships with men later in life based on the relationship they had with their father. Needless to say, it is essential that dads keep the lines of communication open even when the subject is difficult or uncomfortable.

Go on a shopping trip. Point out clothing that doesn't meet your modesty criteria and explain why. Help your girls to find pretty, feminine outfits to try on or purchase. When you get home, have the girls put on a runway show for the rest of the family.

Allow your daughters to participate in your own beauty routines. For instance, you might allow them to try on your jewelry or experiment with a bit of makeup. Little girls learn a lot about femininity from watching their mother.


  • As many as 1 in 4 children under the age of 18 is a victim of sexual abuse, according to Stop Child Abuse Now (SCAN). As part of your discussion of modesty, talk to your little girls in very basic terms about appropriate touching. Explain that is never okay for an adult to touch them in the areas covered by a swimsuit. Role play and ask your girls to tell you what they would do in a particular situation. Give them examples of "good" touches such as hugs, high-fives or hand holding. Although this conversation may feel uncomfortable, it is an important part of protecting your children from abuse.

About the Author

Carolyn Robbins began writing in 2006. Her work appears on various websites and covers various topics including neuroscience, physiology, nutrition and fitness. Robbins graduated with a bachelor of science degree in biology and theology from Saint Vincent College.

Photo Credits

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