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We have a 10yr old girl,an 8yr old boy and a 5yr old girl. Our 8yr old son would constantly say "you see I can't do it", "I'm dumb", "I can't do anything". Although he still has a short fuse and gets frustrated easily when he can't do something or learn something new he does it less now. I have noticed that my husband is also very negative when it comes to himself and my son is a lot like my husband in many ways. My daughters have never had this issue. My husband and I are always cheering him on and telling him he can do anything but once in a while he is still negative. I'm afraid this will damage his self-esteem. We try to give each child time for themselves and he really enjoys that. What else can we do to keep him from thinking so negative of himself?


Janet Price Replied: This scenario can be one of the most painful for us as parents. We want so much for our children to feel good about themselves, and worry when they show signs of low self-esteem. The fact that you are paying attention and noticing the signs of your son's shaky self-esteem means that you are halfway to a solution. It is interesting and helpful to notice family characteristics. In this case, it might help your husband to think about ways that he can support your son to be more positive, as he is also learning how to build those skills for himself. It is important that your son know that you hear him when he is feeling discouraged. These feelings and view of himself come from somewhere. So I encourage you to explore what situations, both specifically and in general, your son feels inadequate in. Does it take him longer than his friends and classmates to learn specific tasks? Is he expecting himself to be able to do what his older sister can do and feels dumb when he can't? Spending time with him alone is a wonderful opportunity to communicate that he is an important member of your family and that you love him just for being him- not for a specific accomplishment. The combination of building a more positive sense of himself while also hunting for the cause of his negative thoughts will help him move away from those negative thoughts and build his sense of himself as a worthy person.
Posted On 2008-03-27 14:05:54
D. Kristine Manley Replied: Our children follow our lead as parents, and I'm sure your son is following your husband's lead when it comes to voicing negatives about himself. Lovingly speak to your husband about his negative speech that appears to be affecting your son who has begun to speak negatively about himself. Let your husband know that he is "Superman" to you and the children, and it is good for your son not to hear Dad voice self negative thoughts. You mentioned that your children enjoy time for themselves which is great; I have found that most children enjoy doing things for others. Have you ever thought of having your son volunteer? Reading to younger children or to the elderly who can't read for themselves? A wonderful self-esteem booster would be to develop a resume or a CAB (Child Activity Brief) for your son who would see what he is capable of captured on paper. Boost his self-esteem by letting him know that what he does is so important that Mom and Dad want to keep track of his activities and other accomplishments. He could present his resume / CAB to his class and encourage his classmates to do the same. He could become a child book reviewer for a children's magazine or a children's website. I bet he would feel good about himself if he could show his friends and classmates his comments featured in a magazine or posted on the Internet. You and your husband continue to praise and affirm your son; I would also encourage him to voice aloud how bright he is; let him know that Mom and Dad sure like hearing him say good things about himself.
Posted On 2008-03-26 18:59:58
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