Summer is waning and you've been out shopping for new shoes, clothes and backpacks. The school supplies are labeled, packed up and ready to go -- but what about your kids?
Chances are most children and teens are feeling a bit anxious about going back to class. Will math be more difficult this year? Will I fit in? What if someone tries to bully me?
As a parent, it is your job to help your youngster study hard, stand up to adversity and, most of all, feel confident that he or she will succeed and do well in school. Keeping in mind that parents want their offspring to have a positive approach to education, here's what a few professionals have to say about building confidence in children as the new school year gets under way.
Ask your children for their advice, instructs Rabbi Roger E. Herst, the author of "A Simple Formula for Raising Happy Children." "This is an exercise to encourage independent thought," he says. "Asking children for their advice lets them know you care about and respect their perspective, which tells them their voice matters. It also lets them know they are responsible for their opinions, which have impact on the real world, and not just in their minds."
Our kids are amazing and it is important that they understand that, says veteran psychologist Dr. Sherrie Campbell. "They are amazing just because they are. They don't have to do anything to be amazing," she says. "They are a gift, deserve to be loved and treasured and need to be disciplined to think and believe in their own greatness. When we see them start having low self-esteem we must remind them nothing can stand the way of their greatness."
Children need to know that they are both smart and significant, says Campbell, the author of "Loving Yourself: The Mastery of Being Your Own Person." "When we raise our children, we must raise them to see, believe in and use their intelligence. When our children hear they are smart, and we find every opportunity to reflect this to them through their own actions, we help them to believe it about themselves. When they believe they are smart they behave smartly, perform smartly, communicate intelligently and they make wiser choices."
"Your child needs to learn how to deal with life on his or her own terms," says Dr. George S. Glass, co-author of "The Overparenting Epidemic." "Circumstances change, communication varies and children respond differently as they grow older. This means that all of us will continue making mistakes.
"Let your kids fail, beginning with the first time they fall down on the playground," he says. "They need to learn early on that life is full of bumps and bruises, and that they have the wherewithal to overcome them."
"No one is perfect and having confidence doesn't come as a result of being perfect," says Campbell. "Confidence comes from learning to love themselves in their not-so-perfect moments." They also need to be powerful, she adds. "It won't matter what people say about them because they know what they think of themselves."
Still sometimes mistakes are a good thing, concludes Glass. Rough spots help children gain the confidence needed to succeed first in school and then, later in life. "Work with your kids on how they can learn from their mistakes," he instructs.
Finally, be sure to let them take pride in their schoolwork and their creations, even if you think that they should be "better" or that you should help out. "It's their science fair," says Glass. "You had yours."