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NIKITA KAMATH, 9, a fourth-grader at Tampa Palms Elementary, was one of the top three finalists at her school’s science fair competition. Her project titled "FRUITS vs. VEGETABLES" was chosen to represent her school at the upcoming countywide science fair.

PREETHA KAMATH, 13, a seventh-grader at Benito Middle, was geography bee winner of her class and participated in the school’s geography bee competition. She also will be part of Benito’s Math League team for the upcoming county level Math League competition. She has been on the Principal's Honor Roll for academic achievement and conduct.

Self esteem is key to child's success in 2005

Dr. Judy Johnson
Approximately 20 to 45 percent of school-aged children do not reach their full potential because they suffer from low self-esteem. Self-esteem refers to how you feel about yourself. It includes self-confidence, self-respect, pride in oneself, independence and self-reliance. Success builds self-esteem and leads to continued success.

Because underachieving students do not experience much success in the classroom, low self-esteem is often the result. Even students receiving just average grades do not feel the success needed to help build self-esteem. A long history of C's with good behavior and effort can be particularly demoralizing for a student, and over time, can lead to a lack of motivation and subsequent low esteem.

Purvi Patel
A school-aged child's self-esteem is cultivated primarily at home. It is important that parents understand how to help build positive self-esteem in their child. A secure home environment that establishes confidence, respect and an open exchange of ideas, thoughts and feelings is crucial to building a positive sense of self that persists regardless of the views of others.

The more positive a child's self-perception, the more successful they will be at dealing with life. Confident children will try harder, be happier and will have more energy to devote to resolving the inevitable difficulties that come their way.

Children with high levels of self-esteem are not afraid to approach something new. Their confidence prevents them from feeling threatened when they don't fully understand something. They feel comfortable asking questions. Because they have respect for their own judgment, it will easier to for them to resist negative peer group pressures.

High self-esteem enables a young person to face new experiences with enthusiasm and shrug off disappointments with an "it will be better next time" attitude.

The role parents play in developing self-esteem is crucial. It is best to start early, but a serious commitment to helping an older child develop stronger self-esteem should be a priority for 2005. Here are a few communication tips:

  • have easy-going conversations on topics that are of interest to children;
  • ask questions that require an in-depth response;
  • be optimistic and encourage children to have optimistic thoughts;
  • listen patiently to what the children are saying;
  • value what children say and withhold judgment;
  • encourage children to express their true feelings.
  • inspire children to set goals;
  • praise children daily for honest accomplishments, efforts and attitudes;
  • say "I love you" daily with sincerity;
  • share your mistakes with children:
  • make children’s time, friends, interests and functions important to the family;
  • help identify obstacles to success, then develop ways to overcome them.

    In today's society, there is a definite demand on students to succeed. It may require outside help to get your child back on the road to success and self-esteem. Consider options that strengthen your child's abilities in multiple ways and deal with primary issues that are preventing success in a positive way.

    Dr. Judy Johnson, a Ph.D. in Special Education and regional director of Sylvan Learning Centers in north Hillsborough and Pasco counties, and Purvi Patel, center director of Sylvan Learning Center in Zephyrhills, can be reached at (813) 968-4497 or 813-782-8219.

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