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Know of any youth who have won an award or have a recent accomplishment? Send in your news on youth to Shephali J. Rele, Khaas Baat, 18313 Cypress Stand Circle, Tampa, FL 33647 or e-mail Be sure to include school name, grade and age.
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By Teesta Sullivan

How many of us have heard our child say, “I can’t do it.” Or, “It’s too hard” when faced with a new task? Parents often chalk these phrases up to a child’s being lazy, or a disinterest in the job at hand. This may be the case, but parents need to be careful to watch out that their child is not suffering from a decreased confidence or lowered self-esteem.

Parents of young children usually refer to a child with good self-esteem as being one who feels “good” about themselves. With teenagers, self-esteem often refers to the extent to which a child wishes to be accepted by the peers and adults he admires.

According to Michael Berman, head of pediatrics at Arrowhead Community Hospital and Medical Center in Arizona, self-esteem should be considered as important as a child’s academic growth when talking about a child’s development. “Self esteem … everyone says how important it is. But how many parents really work to build it in their kids?” Berman asks.

Teesta Sullivan

There is no magic formula to instilling confidence in one’s child. However, there are some strategies that parents can use to help their child build their self-confidence, as well as build stronger relationships with their parents.

Time and attention: Too often, we neglect to give children our full attention. We may think they don’t realize it, but often they do. When you focus fully on someone, you are telling them that they are important. You value them; they are deserving of your time.

Be available to listen: This does not mean pressure your children to talk, but if they are desiring to talk – listen. This is not the time to jump in with solutions to their problems. Do not jump to give advice immediately; let your child talk and work on listening to what he or she is saying.

Praise your child: Do not limit your praise to shows of excellence on their part. Let them know you are proud of them on a daily basis. Parents have a tremendous influence on children, regardless of whether or not they wish to acknowledge it. Do not limit your praise to academics, try and notice when they have positive social behavior as well (i.e. sharing, being patient, listening, taking turns…)

Spend time with your child, every day: Daily time with children lets them know that they matter to you. Set aside some time each evening to do something with your child that you both enjoy.

Give your child challenges: Involve your child in chores and activities that make the child stretch his abilities. This will give him a sense of accomplishment, when he is able to complete the task.

Be aware of peer influences: We have to keep in mind that as our children grow older, and develop stronger ties with their peers, their self-evaluation may change. It is important to be clear to children about your family values. Let them know that the lines of communication are open with mom and dad.

Finally, teach children to cope with defeat: It is important that when a child’s self-esteem is weakened, we reassure them that our love and support is still there. After the crisis, help your child reflect on what may have gone wrong or what they could do differently in the future. The next time your child faces a crisis, they will be able to build on prior knowledge in addressing it. Life is a mixture of ups and downs; our children need to realize this.

Teesta Sullivan has a JD, a MSH and B.A. in Psychology. She is the area developer for FasTracKids and also president of Legendary Beginnings Inc., an authorized licensee of FasTracKids. She can be reached at (813) 908-5437.

Know of any youth who have won an award or have a recent accomplishment? Send in your news on youth to Shephali J. Rele, Khaas Baat, 18313 Cypress Stand Circle, Tampa, FL 33647 or e-mail Be sure to include school name, grade and age.

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