L.H. asks from Boonsboro, MD on September 30, 2008
I have a 10 year old boy that is struggling. He is very smart. He plays soccer. He has lots of friends. But....he has a low self esteem. I spoke to the school counselor today and got some information that bothers me. She talked to my son and he told her that he doesn't think he is as smart as his friends. Most of them get straight A's (in the advanced class-magnet program). My son gets A's and B's. He told her that he wanted to go back to the regular classes cause he's just not good enough to be there. He also told her that some of the kids, even his friends, say things like "You didn't know that?" or "I knew that already". It is making him feel inadequate and I don't like it. I know of one of his friends that does it in reference to everything, including soccer. This friend is very competitive and my son hates it. He has decided to limit his time with this friend. Should I confront the friends mom? We are friendly, not close but friendly. Maybe she doesn't know it. Maybe she would understand and say something to her son. I don't want my son to continue feeling this way and I'm not quite sure what to do. He compares himself to his friends. He constantly tells me that he is not as good as they are. Any advice or suggestion would help a lot.
2 moms found this helpful
S.T. answers from Washington DC on October 01, 2008
first, congrats on being such a wonderful mom, especially doing the difficult single parent road, with your smart and sweet boy! it doesn't sound to me as if he's encountering ugliness, just the offhand comments that kids make not realizing they're wounding. some competition is good! rather than focusing on getting his friends to change their style (assuming that there's not true bullying or meanness going on) i'd work more on your son's internal strength and self-confidence. this doesn't happen through effusive praise, but in quiet acknowledgement and reinforcement of what he does well and how he handles challenges. i think his decision to limit time spent with his uber-competitive friend shows thoughtfulness and maturity.
my bet is that with your loving support, this difficult time will end up being an amazing growth and learning opportunity for him.
1 mom found this helpful
D.D. answers from Washington DC on September 30, 2008
I am a retired teacher and I have seen this competition game played at various levels throughout my career. Actually, it is not limited to grade school or children and teenagers. Adults are most competitive, and they can be just as cruel, inconsiderate, and insensitive as the younger ones. However, on the younger level, there is a bit more that you can do to change the situation.
First, you can go to your son's teacher and ask her to speak to all of her students about hurting one another feelings and self-esteem when they constantly refer to a classmate's failings. Most teachers, if they are on their toes at all, are very much aware of the taunts, teasing, and ribbing that go on among their students. They also know the pecking order, who is the most popular, the cutest, the best at sports, etc., according to popular opinion in the classroom. But, just in case his teacher doesn't know all this or if she has failed or is refusing to do anything about it, request, strongly advise, or whatever you have to do to get her involved in reversing this trend. Also share with his teacher something interesting or noteworthy about your son, something that he knows quite a bit about or something that he does really well or is really good at. If you can't think of anything, teach him to do something or encourage him to learn about something that he knows the guys his age would be interested in: space, astronauts, animals, etc. If he's very young, ask him what the guys think is really cool and get a book on it or look it up online and tell him about it. Then ask the teacher to allow a time for all students(because you don't want the class to think that this is just for you son; that would be worse) to share with the class their own special things or topics. If you have friends in special fields like biologists, biochemists, policemen, firemen, etc.,boys are bound to be excited about having your son's "friend" come and show them some really neat things or experiences from his work. If his teacher is not very approachable, you can maybe appeal to other teachers in the school that you know, or, if necessary, the principal. It is just that important.
Next, you can find stories about people and animals that are not very popular, or don't seem to be worth much to humanity,not very attractive, not really good at sports,don't seem to be worth much to humanity, etc., who have shown the world that they were still special in their own way and earned the respect of their peers in time. You might look up the story of Albert Einstein. Many do not know that he had problems in school and his teacher didn't think very highly of him. However, Einstein is one of the greatest,if not the greatest, scientific mind that ever existed. Bees are not anyone's pets, generally, and no one thinks very much of the bees, except when they are stung, however, as seen the Bee Movie, not only flowers, but fruits and vegetables, herbs, and other vegetation depend on bees for for their very existence. We would not have fruits and vegetables to eat or honey if it were not for the lowly bees.
Finally, point out the good qualities your son has and tell him how much you appreciate them. Let him know that he is special to you, your family, and God, because God made only one of him. The whole world determines value by how scarce a thing is, and there is only one of him. Also make a point of commending him for a job well done and/or a job completed, his thoughfulness, and unselfishness.
I hope this helps.
J.G. answers from Norfolk on October 01, 2008
I am the mother of a 9 yr old gifted child so i relate very well to this concern. I would start by suggesting that you look up common traits of gifted children, because your son is exhibiting a classic sign. Gifted children have a very difficult time when they make mistakes and put a lot of pressure on themselves to be "perfect". They also, have a difficult time trying something new if they are afraid they wont do it perfectly the first time. (I have struggled with this with my daughter since she was 5.)
My daughter is artistic so i will give you the scenario and how i handled it with her, and maybe you can gain some insight. We were sitting at the kitchen table coloring in a coloring book together when she began cry. I ask her why she was crying and she told me it was because I colored so much better then her. I explained that i had about 20 more yrs of coloring experience then she did, and I hadn't always colored this way. Infact, i was about her age when i was coloring with a friend and realized she was better then me. So i tried to decide what it was about her work that i liked so much and next time i colored by myself i tried to do something similar. I told her, that in coloring with her (my daughter) i had just learned about a color combination that i would have never thought to put together but she had and the next time i colored I would prolly use those two colors. She was shocked to learn she had actually just taught me something and she smiled. I told her we all have something to learn from everyone we meet and everyone we meet has something they can learn from us.
I wont say this little conversation with her "won the war", but it won the battle. When her feelings of self doubt come up, i remind her what an amazing person she is, no one will ever be perfect, and depending on how bad it is, tell her a funny story of some mistake either her father or i made recently.
I wish luck and i hope that helps a little.
T.Y. answers from Washington DC on October 01, 2008
Did the school counselor have any suggestions? I think it is her job to talk to all the classes about bullying vs. positive ways to behave. I also have a 10-year-old boy in a magnet program & I think that if your son gets As and Bs that 1) he is doing great! and 2) he most definitely belongs there. I would speak with the teacher about watching class behavior and also about encouraging your son, praising him for things he does well. Also, your son should work on how he talks to himself, being encouraging rather than discouraging (This is something everyone in the world should do!) -- I'll bet there are "self-talk" books in the library. I would check there.
Best of luck!
A.F. answers from Washington DC on October 01, 2008
There are some Bible verses I tell my children concerning competition:
I am my own unique self. If I try to be like others I lose my specialness.
Let everyone be sure that he is doing his very best, then he will have the personal satisfaction of work well done and won't need to compare himself with someone else. Gal6:4
But when they, measure themselves by one another, and compare themselves with one another, they are not wise. 2Cor10:12
I hope this helps. AF
K.W. answers from Washington DC on October 01, 2008
This is not an immediate solution but I really suggest taking The Parent Encouragement Program: Becoming A More Encouraging Parent. Helps you learn what you child is going through and how to best encourage them to be independent, self-confident people.
The supplement material if you can't take a class right now is Children the Challenge.
V.C. answers from Washington DC on October 01, 2008
You may be in a tough situation that could get worse as your child gets older. I was labeled gifted beginning in 3rd grade and was sent to advanced classes until high school. There was a move to a new town in 6th grade which didn't help, but I always found myself being not as smart as most of the advanced kids, but smarter than the regular kids. Of course I was ostracized by the regular kids for being in the advanced program (jealously makes mean kids), and I didn't identify with the nerdy super-advanced, competitive kids in my classes, so I found one or two friends who were like me and we rebelled. We had terrible study habits, acted like burn-outs, tried to act like the regular kids and shun the nerdy kids. As the school work and homework got more difficult, I fell behind because I didn't want to compete at that high level. By eighth grade, my parents were having frequent parent-teacher conferences and it was recommended I enter high school at mostly Level 1 classes, not AP or honors classes.
But that was a good thing. In high school, the ALPS kids were integrated, not always taking classes together as a group. I played sports, had many activities, had a greater variety of friends, and excelled in my level 1 courses. It felt good to be the smartest one in the class again, instead of feeling unable to measure up. I could finally balance my school work with my social life. I felt capable, things felt manageable again. By junior and senior year I was back in a few advanced courses. It took lots of encouragement and praise from my teachers to convince me I could do it. They saw a lot of unrealized potential in me. Anyway, I graduated 5th in my class and went to a good college on a scholarship.
So, I guess the moral of my story is...don't let advanced classes rob your son of his self-esteem. If he can do it, great. If the competition is too much, let him go back to being the smartest of the regular kids and supplement his work at home, or with special assignments from his teachers.
Make sure he has balance in his life, so it doesn't take all of his energy to keep getting good grades. And do speak to the other parents and teachers about toning down the level of competition in his classmates.
My 4 yr old started reading early and seems to be heading down the same road I did. I don't know what we plan to do as far as his schooling. Having a smart kid can be a blessing and a curse! Good luck to you.
N.R. answers from Richmond on October 01, 2008
Hopefully, I can at least give you some encouragement to help you and your son feel better through this. It's so very hard for our kids now days. Other kids can seem to say some of the most hurtful things sometimes. We often wonder what in the world these kids are taught. Our oldest son, now almost 13yrs, went through a really tough time with low self esteem. In fact, with my son, it became a behavior issue. I knew something had to be up because we are a family that does not tollerate misbehavior at school. He finally told us crying one day, that he didn't care how much trouble he got into each day. He just wasn't gonna let his friends see how stupid he was. Now he really thought he was stupid. What we learned through that experience is that some kids are hurt more than helped when they are taken out of their 'regular' class and placed into a higher level class or a lower level class. We adults can see the good in the move but if our child is not ready for it, then why make them suffer? He will still be just as smart as he is today if he goes back to his 'regular' class. Learning has to be fun or they will grow to hate it. You can request that he not be in that other child's class in the future. I personally would not talk to the other child's mom. The child learned his competitive nature from somewhere/one. And who knows what can-of-worms that might open?! You have a tough job mom. Now, more than ever, you have to make home a safe place for him to share with you ALL of his troubles. When you guys are together, point out for him ALL of the things he does good. This really helped pull my son out of the doom and gloom back then. And I have made it a habit to do with all of my boys. Constantly tell them what a great job they are doing. If he picks up a toy, I say thank you. And if he puts his plate in the sink I praise him. All day long I am constantly praising him, uplifting him, encouraging him, asking for his advice, requesting his help...I'm sure you get the picture. It is a lot of work for you, but it is so worth it to see their faces light up with self confidence.
Learning has to stay fun. Maybe he can do the more advanced work with you at home and keep to his regular work load at school.
I can't wait to hear how he is doing down the road. L., you have to really give yourself a 'that a girl' pat on the back for doing such a great job with him. He wouldn't be doing so well had he not had YOU by his side. GREAT JOB MOM!
As for that unemployed status, I would be gald to help you change that. What I do, may or may not be for you, but it sure wouldn't hurt to listen, right? Call me anytime ###-###-####.
N. :) SAHM homeschooling 3 boys 12, 7 & 2 yrs old and married to my Mr. Wonderful for almost 15yrs. I love to help moms, who want to become SAHMs, reach that goal. If you or someone you know would like more info please email me anytime at ____@____.com Thanks!