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Building Up Self-Confidence

Toddler and Teenager Expert Advice from Carleton Kendrick, Ed.M., LCSW

Q: I have a 5-year-old kindergartner who,at times, can be very hard on herself. For example, she had to fill out a statement for class asking why she was special. She reacted negatively to this, saying she wasn't special at all, and that there was nothing special about her. She is also,at times,very hard on herself if she cannot complete some difficult task, or if she spills something, etc. Any suggestions? I want to build up her self-confidence.

A: Often when kids begin kindergarten they begin comparing themselves to their classmates on all fronts. It's not unusual to see a child's sense of self-worth and self-image threatened, especially one who may naturally be a bit hard on herself. You must encourage her in all she does, always helping her to frame realistic expectations of herself. Be aware of activities, talents, and interests of hers that offer natural avenues for her to feel competent.

The Parent Handbook, by Dinkmeyer and McKay, has some superb suggestions for building self-confidence in kids. I'd also recommend sending off for the Parenting Resources catalog from Glazenbrook and Associates, P. O. Box 138299, Chicago, IL 60613. They have an entire self-esteem series of books, audiotapes and videos that offer activities and tips for building your child's self-worth; there are resources there for teachers as well that you may want to share with her teacher. There are many ways you can help your little girl feel good about herself. I'm sure these resources will jump-start your empowering her in a myriad of ways. Remember, kids should be allowed feelings of disappointment, that's natural. We must be careful not to allow them to identify themselves as disappointment to us, their teachers and themselves.

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Carleton Kendrick has been in private practice as a family therapist and has worked as a consultant for more than 20 years. He has conducted parenting seminars on topics ranging from how to discipline toddlers to how to stay connected with teenagers. Kendrick has appeared as an expert on national broadcast media such as CBS, Fox Television Network, Cable News Network, CNBC, PBS, and National Public Radio. In addition, he's been quoted in the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, USA Today, Reader's Digest, BusinessWeek, Good Housekeeping, Woman's Day, and many other publications.

Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of FamilyEducation.com should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.

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