Q:

The teacher told me at the end of the school year that my son's poor academic performance in fifth grade was due to low self-esteem. How can I help my child develop higher self-esteem? Also, is it true that a child's self-esteem can affect his or her schoolwork? -- Wondering

A:

Self-esteem can be described as an individual's overall judgment of him- or herself. Children with high self-esteem are more likely to succeed in school because they believe that they are capable and have the ability to develop competence in school tasks. These children are able to handle mistakes and have the confidence to move toward goals even when they suffer setbacks.

Low self-esteem may play some part in your child's academic performance. However, more than likely, he has some weak academic areas. Strengthening these areas this summer, especially if they are reading or math, should help bolster his self-esteem and improve his grades next year.

A key factor in building self-esteem is giving a child unconditional love. Beyond letting your child know he or she is loved, here are some ways to build a child's self-esteem:

  • -Give your child a period of undivided attention each day.
  • -Listen carefully to what your child is saying when he or she is talking to you.
  • -Make sure that your child has responsibilities that are age-appropriate.
  • -Encourage strong family ties.
  • -Set family rules and limits so that your child will know what is expected.
  • -Don't do for your child what he or she can do without your help.
  • -Avoid criticizing and comparing your child to others. Celebrate your child's uniqueness.
  • -Make sure that you have an effective discipline system.
  • -Use praise often and in a meaningful way with your children. Praise how well they do something rather than their intelligence, beauty, etc.
  • -Build your own self-esteem so that your child will perceive you as a self-confident person. Parents with high self-esteem tend to have children with high self-esteem.