Updated: May 30
My 9 year old daughter wore a dress to the school’s theater event. She chose her own outfit, and I gave her some suggestions. It was a beige short sleeve dress and she matched it with a white stockings and other light brown cardigans.
When she came back from the school, I asked her how did it go? She said all her friends questioned her: hey I thought you said you were gonna wear something nice? I asked her: so your friends did not think those outfits are nice? She replied: no. I asked her: how did that make you feel? She replied: I don’t know. I continued: did that make you sad a bit? or upset? She nodded.
Then I hugged her and told her, an outfit does not represent who you really are. Mommy thinks you talk nicely, you behave politely, and you are always constantly helping other people. So deep inside you, you are still mommy’s girl. Nothing is going to change that! I want you to know, everyone has different styles, the thing is you have to know you are a smart, kind, polite girl no matter what cloth you wear.
I know it’s hard for her to take that in, due to being accepted by her peers becoming more and more important. So I know she values her friends' opinions a lot. But from time to time, I still need to remind her that you should know your worth. If you don’t, let mommy remind you.
I tried to focus on her other qualities and strengths, such as her kindness, intelligence, creativity, and unique personality, to boost her self-confidence and remind her of her worth beyond her appearance.
But why as a human, we are easily influenced by other people’s opinions?
Social Validation: Humans have a fundamental need for social acceptance and validation. They seek approval from their peers and family members, and thus tend to conform to the opinions that they believe will help them gain acceptance.
Social Comparison: Humans tend to compare themselves with others to evaluate their own worth. Therefore, if they perceive that others have a good opinion of something or someone, they may also form a similar opinion.
Confirmation Bias: Humans tend to seek out information that reinforces their existing beliefs and opinions, even if they are not well-founded. Therefore, they tend to be influenced by opinions that align with their existing beliefs.
Authority Bias: Humans may be influenced by the opinions of authority figures or experts, believing that their opinions are more credible and correct.
Emotional Influence: Humans are emotional beings and can be influenced by the emotions and feelings that others express towards a certain thing or idea. If someone is passionate about something, it may inspire others to adopt a similar view.
How can we avoid being influenced by others' opinions:
Know yourself and your own values: Before making any important decisions, take some time to think about what you truly believe in and what is important to you. This will help you stay grounded in your own beliefs and prevent you from being swayed too easily by others.
Be open-minded: While it's important to stay true to your own beliefs, it's also important to be open to new ideas and perspectives. This will help you see things from different angles and make more well-informed decisions.
Question the source: When someone offers their opinion, try to understand where they're coming from and what their agenda might be. Are they trying to persuade you to do something that benefits them or someone else?
Seek out diverse opinions: Don't just seek out opinions that confirm what you already believe. Try to expose yourself to a variety of opinions and perspectives, and be willing to consider them all.
Consider the facts: Don't just rely on opinions, look at the facts as well. Investigate the issue yourself and try to understand the data behind it, so you can make your own informed decision.
However, teaching a child to differentiate fact & emotion is not easy. That’s why we need to constantly remind them and give them examples in real life. So they can relate to the situation easily. Never underestimate their potential, sometimes they can be even smarter than us. Next time, if your kids are influenced by other people, reminded them their worth and how important it is to value their own qualities first.