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I am a mother of three; two fourteen year old twin girls and one eleven year old son. Awesome children!! My only concern is my son. Unfortunately, I have raised him to be overly sensitive and self-concious. He tears up when he is disciplined and he tends to need extreme amounts of reassurance. He is above average in school, very well mannered, behaves at home and in public, great reports on behavior at school and excels in sports. (I am not sure how I got so lucky!). However, he thinks people are making fun of him or he does not have any friends. He also gets upset if I do not tell him he does a "good job". How can I raise his self-esteem without being harsh? How can do I make him feel better about himself? My daughters have enough self-confidence for the whole family, I am just not sure what I did wrong with him? Any help would be greatly appreciated. My heart breaks for him when he is so hard on himself. Thanks so much!


Mark Viator Replied: It can really be tough to see a great kid being so hard on himself. The key here is consistency. Keep pointing out the good things. He may not see what you see in him, but keep telling him "good job." He apparently does seek approval from others. While seeking approval can be important, help him to realize that it is his own satisfaction that is important. He apparently does well in whatever he tries, so he is not setting his "bar" too low. Let him know that you think he is a great person, and that he just needs to try to be happy with himself. While having friends is very important, once he is content with himself, he will see that others really aren't making fun of him, and then this could open up new avenues to other relationships. Just keep poining out the positive. It sounds like there is plenty to point out. Good Luck.
Posted On 2010-06-21 10:49:21
Jim Taylor, Ph.D. Replied: First of all, you probably haven't done anything "wrong with him." My guess it that he was born temperamentally sensitive, so he is more vulnerable to messages related to success and failure. Most basically, he doesn't perceive himself to be a very competent person (which is a key component to self-esteem). Why this is I can't judge, but you should look at the messages he has been getting from you and your husband about his capabilities: Are you babying him, do you intervene too quickly when he struggles, do you overpraise him when he succeeds and overplacate him when he does poorly? You should be sure to give him plenty of opportunities to demonstrate his competence and then encourage him to evaluate his own performances and praise himself when he succeeds. Sometimes boys at that age need to be given the chance to toughen up on their own. Your worries and reactions to him may be exacerbating rather than helping his difficulties. Raising self-esteem at that age can be difficult because of a confluence of factors that emerge as children enter adolescence: peer acceptance, physical attractiveness, and a popular culture that emphasizes a narrowly defined view of success, all of which tend to push self-esteem down rather than elevate it. A qualified therapist may help in this process.
Posted On 2007-03-30 13:58:15
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