Dr. Susan Rudnicki Featured Expert on Fox 5 Atlanta
Susan Rudnicki on Fox 5

Atlanta, GA – July 1, 2011- A Must-See Segment for Parents:

Dunwoody-based clinical health psychologist, Dr. Susan Rudnicki, who specializes in teen problems and women’s issues, weighs in on the controversial world of children’s beauty pageants.

Fox 5’s Tacoma Perry interviews Dr. Rudnicki about a local 3 year old girl’s quest for the crown:

Dr. Susan Rudnicki
WINDER, Ga. – Children’s pageants are a fast growing industry, with billions of dollars flowing through the pipeline. Yearly in Georgia, thousands of girls compete to take home a coveted crown or title.

But what effect does the competition have on a child’s self-esteem?

Three-year-old Paisley Scott of Winder is accustomed to being fussed over.

“She has a lot of hair for a 3 year old. She was born with hair down her back and over her ears,” said Paisley’s mother Wendy Dickey.

And it was as a 6-month-old baby, that her mother Wendy entered into her in a pageant with the caveat from paisley’s father that it would be the only one.

“We did Miss Barrow County and she won. And when she won, he toted her around like a little trophy. So he said, ‘ok, you can do more if you want to. So now, I think we’re in the sixties. We’ve done sixty-something pageants,” said Wendy Dickey.

And Paisley has taken the top prize at more than 50 of those pageants. She’s even been featured on TLC’s “Toddlers and Tiaras.” And it’s the sometimes crazed characters on the show that have many shaking their heads. But Atlanta psychologist, Dr. Susan Rudnicki says there are some good things that come from pageantry, among them raising money for charities and college.

“Also, a lot of girls who have had trouble with public speaking, or confidence level, shy or have difficulty being around other people learn to be more self confident, have greater self esteem, being comfortable in their own body, in their own skin,” said psychologist Dr. Susan Rudnicki.

But when do you draw the line? When is a child’s achievement being driven by the parents?

“Are they getting into constant battles about the hair and the makeup and if that’s the case, the parent has to look at the reasons why they’re getting their child into this,” said Rudnicki.

“She’s the biggest sponge that I know. She watches the other girls. I come home at night, daddy, I want to do my pageant. She does things you wouldn’t think a 3 year old could do. You would think somebody’s coaching her but she hasn’t had a whole lot coaching,” said Paisley’s father, Scott Dickey.

Dr. Rudnicki says it’s important that your children like what they see when they look in the mirror, whether they’re considered beautiful or not. And she also says in the world of pageantry, they must know that you love them even when the tiara comes off.

“We all, even as adults, we all try out things that we think we might like and it may not work out and that’s ok, that’s part of life – trial and error,” said Rudnicki.

Wendy says for now, Paisley just loves playing dress up. But if and when it ends, she has a backup plan.

“She really loves gymnastics, so if pageants don’t work out in the future we hope to be successful with gymnastics also,” said Wendy Dickey.

Paisley’s TLC episodes will air on July 20 and July 27. Spoiler alert – when the show airs you’ll see Paisley win ultimate grand supreme.