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How Christina Applegate Stays Healthy and Happy

The actress dishes about 'Anchorman 2,' parenting, and self-esteem.

Applegate on Parenting continued...

Many parents find it difficult not to interfere in their kids' choices -- or their closets. The same creative vein that led the teenaged Applegate to troll secondhand shops and don grunge attire enables her to stand back and let Sadie be Sadie.

"Some parents feel judged by other parents" about what their kids wear, she says. "But I don't feel that way. If I tried to make my daughter put on something she doesn't like, she wouldn't feel good about herself. Sadie always has a purpose to her outfits. Today it was, 'Mama, I need something to twirl.' So she put on a frilly skirt with the craziest leggings ever." Applegate laughs at the mental image. "And I encourage her to express herself."

Applegate's secure, relaxed attitude -- not to mention her high-profile name -- made her an ideal partner for FabKids.com, a new girl's clothing line. Applegate recently teamed up with the company as a creative partner, saying she likes FabKids' mission to encourage girls to shine in their own unique ways. On the web site, kids and parents fill out a "style profile" that customizes outfits to reflect changing moods and months. The notion is to get away from a cookie-cutter approach.

Appearance is just one aspect of self-esteem. Allowing a child to make individual choices without too much interference is the right move, says Elizabeth Berger, MD, a New York City-based child psychiatrist.

"On one hand, the parent generally has a better grip on what is safe, what is appropriate, and what is beautiful, and can always force a showdown," Berger says. "But the child also needs the parent's support of his or her own point of view. What is damaged by the overbearing approach is a child's self-esteem. The parent needs to produce magic here, by embracing the child's difference from the parent." In other words, step in if your kid wants to wear swimwear on a freezing winter's day. But go ahead and praise clashing colors if your child is proud that she paired them by herself. 

What to do on the occasions when a parent must intervene? "It's best for a parent to simply say, 'No. We're not doing that,' in a simple, direct way, and then move on," Berger advises.

Help Kids Develop Self Esteem

Two child psychologists weigh in on how to negotiate our brand-saturated, consumer-driven world.

A strong foundation comes first. 

Berger insists that youthful trends, no matter how alarming to an adult, aren't the biggest issue. "Parents need help in negotiating trust, communication, and genuine intimacy" between themselves and their children, she says. It's not the phone or the booty shorts, per se; it's "modeling the right behaviors, and then placing more faith in the child's judgment."

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