Middle School Daughter on Instagram

Updated on March 20, 2017
S.M. asks from Everett, WA
8 answers

Hi, my middle school daughter has an instagram account (which I only allowed if I have access to it as well) - one thing that bothers me is she will post a picture of herself and say, "sorry for the ugly picture" or "I am so ugly". While I know she is hoping for people to compliment her - does anyone have any advice on how to help a middle school girl feel more confident that she doesn't have to post this kind of thing? I know it's pretty normal to feel awkward especially in the middle school years, but I don't like her posting this kind of stuff in hopes of getting a compliment or looking for approval. If I had to do it over again, I would never have agreed to letting her have an of this social media stuff. It's been a great way for her to connect with friends but it has also caused drama and now this hope for approval thing....ugh.

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E.B.

answers from Beaumont on

My opinion....Middle school is brutal. My boys are in high school and I still don't allow Instagram etc. Please get her out of this. Maybe have snapchat where she can only be viewed by her friends??

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D.B.

answers from Boston on

I think many girls are very hard on themselves. It's the culture we live in, and we're doing so little to stop it. We "compliment" little girls on how pretty they are and almost push them into playing "princess," then worry (or worse, act surprised) when they are fixated on looks.

And we don't do the same thing for our boys, not at all.

I also think our daughters spend an awful lot of time apologizing. Women too. We apologize for having a different opinion in a business meeting, for forgetting to put yogurt on the grocery list, and for making a mistake as parents. We really are so hard on ourselves, then wonder why our daughters emulate us.

What does surprise me is your statement that "If I had it to do over again, I would never have agreed to" it. Why do you think this is a done deal? I also don't understand why this is "a great way for her to connect with friends." I see so many kids who use this instead of talking on the phone, getting together, and actually speaking to each other.

I think you can take away the account instead of giving her the impression that it's perfectly okay to a) fish for compliments and b) put herself down publicly in a way that will be "out there" forever. And even those posts that supposedly disappear in a few seconds are easily kept permanent by simple screen shots. If she needs help on her self-image, you can let her know that you are going to help her. She can ask for your help without putting stuff on line where you will see it. I don't think you have to enable it by giving her access to a social media account of any kind that allows her to denigrate herself. I'd suspend it until she's more mature. This is NOT helping her stay in touch with her friends - she's substituting it for real social interaction, and that's not the point.

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C.C.

answers from New York on

I wonder if you could try something along the lines of "reverse psychology" and ask: "Why would you post a picture that you think is ugly? Why not wait until you have something really nice to post?"

You are NOT saying that you think the photo IS ugly, simply trying to help her examine her own words and actions.

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B.C.

answers from Norfolk on

If she's handling social media like this - then she's not ready for it.
Consider taking it away for a few years and try it again when she's more confident.
Everyone goes through an awkward stage in middle school.
Social media while you're going through it makes it 10 times worse.
It just takes some maturity that she hasn't developed as yet.
Connecting to/through the internet is a privilege - not a right - and you have every right to take it away.
It's for her own good at least for the time being.

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V.B.

answers from Jacksonville on

Talk with her. Confidence or not, it's a bad habit to solicit compliments. Sure, everyone feels unattractive (ugly even) from time to time. Do the pictures she posts actually look unflattering? Or are they fabulous pictures (obviously NOT ugly) and she is just trying to post a good picture without saying "look how great I look!"? People (not just teens) can have hangups about their looks and about photos of themselves. But photos of yourself is what instagram is all about. If she is uncomfortable posting photos of herself, maybe she should reconsider using this app. If she doesn't know how to comment about photos of herself without demeaning herself, maybe you can offer her help there.

Tell her (she is a teen who doesn't know) that it sounds phony and like she's fishing for compliments when she says "look at this ugly picture of me." Give her other ideas about what to say and see if her posts change. IF not, consider readdressing whether she is ready for that app.

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E.B.

answers from Honolulu on

Maybe you could encourage her to post positive words on her account. As you said, she's already got an online presence. Ask her to think before posting: how would this make your friends think about themselves? Is this helping someone? Try challenging her to not use the words "ugly", "fat", "weird", or any other negative word like those. Try talking to her about girls who are really struggling with being bullied, and how a positive word or a post or snap that doesn't include a harsh word might be the help someone needs.

Challenge her for one week to say something positive, or to simply post an interesting picture that's not a selfie (a flower that's blooming, a sunset, a delicious sandwich, cool shoes, a funny sign,a weird bug, etc). And you do the same. Even if you don't have instagram, use your phone to take a positive or interesting or happy picture and show it to your daughter. One photo per day, each.

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K.S.

answers from Denver on

From just what you're posting about this issue, it's totally normal. Many girls do this. Just as they count up the 'likes' on a post as confirmation of their okay-ness, they do this hoping that people tell them they're pretty. I'm glad you're concerned, but I certainly wouldn't just take away the account for something that's totally developmentally appropriate.

What I would do is sort of label what you see going on, but come at it from the side. Like say (since you have access to Instagram) "I keep seeing so many girls commenting about how bad they look in pictures, you all are just fine!" Then let her know that it makes sense that she would do it, it feels awesome to read through comments that say you are cute. But explain to her that if she saw posts from a girl doing this too often it would get on her nerves, and you want to make sure she stops this before she gets on anyone's nerves.

Also explain the difference of feeling good about yourself only based on what other people think/say and feeling good on the inside, and knowing she's a great kid. Keep it as light as possible. "Thanks for posting nice pictures, we just need to tweak the captions, but you are making this look so easy- I'm so glad I can trust you to keep this app!"

I wouldn't underestimate the devastation of taking away an app at this point, it really is hard on them. Unless she broke some serious rule, I wouldn't take it away (save it for something way more severe!!). But I would say you could cap the number of apps at whatever she has now, and tell her now. So that if a new app comes along, she would need to delete one of the current ones in order to get it (pending approval of course). This is a pre-emptive move for letting it get out of hand.

One book that helped me a ton on tweens' self esteem, social media, friendship issues, etc. was a book called Between Baby Dolls and Boyfriends. I can't remember the author but it was on Amazon. This is a tough age, sounds like you're doing a great job keeping up with it all. Good luck!

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J.B.

answers from Boston on

Honestly I would call her out on it and tell her to knock it off or she loses the privilege. Don't let her be "that girl" (and please know that "don't be 'that guy'" is something I say all the time to my sons and has become my parenting mantra). If her self-esteem is really that low, the last thing she needs is Instagram. If she's fishing for compliments (totally normal!) then she needs to stop doing it so obviously and trust that when she posts pics, her friends will still "like" them (or whatever the Insta seal of approval is). It's a tough time to navigate social media - good for you for being aware of what she's posting, and don't be afraid to revoke the privilege until she has matured a bit.

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