we have had a really stressful year in DDs first grade. lots of chaos, physical aggression between the children (boys physically attacking each other), and mean girls, with one in particular targeting DD consistently. my already sensitive DD has come away from the school year virtually unable to handle criticism, the slightest teasing, disagreements, etc. from her peers without crying, stating that she "hates" so-and-so, will "never speak to them again", hitting herself in the face, saying she is "stupid" and the like.
it has been heartbreaking to watch this all unfold, and we did our best to try to do damage control during the year, but didn't get much validation from the school about our concerns. she will be going to a new school in the fall, and we want to do the best we can to help DD move through and past this really challenging experience.
how do we rebuild a little girl's self esteem in the most constructive and lasting way? i was a sensitive child, but didn't have the benefit of having a mother who was a sensitive person, so i am kind of at a loss as to how to help my child heal without letting my own feelings spill over into the situation? i want her to realize she is beautiful, intelligent and strong from the inside out, but don't want to send the message in a superficial way. basically, how do we help her heal and promote resilience?
any thoughts would be most appreciated.
blessings to you all.
I am not an expert at all. I am so sorry for all this happening. What I would like to say is that the various difficult things that have happened to me as a child and an adult were made 1000 times worse by feeling I was the only one that it ever happened to and also made better when someone told me I was not the only one, not alone in this experience. I would consider telling her that she is not the only one in the world who has had her problems and experiences.
Good luck and am sending healing thoughts
I used the book to get ideas about what draws a bully to a particular child and talked with my DD about that. Together we worked on strategies for decreasing the behaviors that made bullying her worth it for her bully (crying or a dramatic reaction in a high pitched voice). This is a controversial thing but I wasn't willing to stand by while she continued to get picked on even with responsive teachers all around. She switched to being firm, ignoring and walking away, then to asking a teacher for help. I also coached her to ask by saying she had asked the child to stop and walked away but the child won't stop then saying she needs more ideas. It comes off as needing help not tattling and gets a good response.
I love the book Raising a Thinking Pre-Teen for building emotional awareness and helping the whole family learn to think from different perspectives. This may help a lot if she has a tendency to take things the wrong way.
I also think extracurricular activities are very important for building confidence. The YMCA offers scholarships if money is an issue and community centers often have inexpensive activities too. My DD is a swimmer and we are now to the point where I can use that to remind her that things often take time and perseverance just like learning to swim.
between 5 and 7 just before consciousness development hits, kids get sad and depressed and very very self critical. remember it is a stage. everything is magnified as they try to figure out life.
this is the age where they feel things very intensely - super sensitive or not. so your dd is not reacting out of the ordinary. this is the age when 'I am stupid' appears everywhere.
this is such a growing phase. the emotional aspect of it. there's a huge jump from about 8 to 10. they become even more sensitive - stage - and when they come out of it, they are so mature.
you kinda have to figure out what kind of parenting your dd wants. this is the age where you bring up big issues nonchalantly. just be careful not to be in the lecture mode. and don't expect any results quite yet. suddenly with the snap of the fingers she will be better.
one thing I have noticed with dd and the kids in her class - is that no matter what impact the outside world has on our kids, we are still very important to them and they closely watch us to see how we treat situations. so model yourself and they will follow that.
at that age I was introducing the concept of duality. that both the good and bad exist side by side. the saddest thing in the world is to make a choice, because one wins and one loses. that even though it seems like the worst thing in the world, there is still a silver lining.
i'd process the same in my life. remember our kids need to hear it for years before they adopt/question/figure out if we are right or wrong. everytime I was going thru something, i'd share my thoughts, feelings, opinions with dd. mostly i'd share a lot of my fears with her too. she is bold and fearless so she loved canvassing for me.
kfillmore i'd love that book too.
unfortunately I haven't really found such a book. perhaps the closest is louise ames bates series.
otherwise the unfortunate answer is experience.
from my dd, from her friends and from her class with whom I fortunately have had the opportunity to work very closely since first grade.
the way I parent is I don't want to know what technique to use. just tell me what is developmental, what behavior is kinda age appropriate, and then i'll figure out how to work with the child.
thank you, everyone, for the insight and support.
i do see the developmental changes in DD and her peers as being a contributing factor to how we have found ourselves at present, and i am hoping and praying that things improve as we enter into her 9th year of life. i have heard from other moms that their children (mostly daughters) have taken on a lot of negative self talk, but not the extent that DD has. the 7-year-change has been very profound for her, and being bullied and surrounded by a lot of chaos has really done a number on her.
i am realizing more and more the truth in what meemee said-- the degree to which children look to us is a critical component of how to get them through these patches of rough sledding. that is why i am so concerned about how to best handle things at this time. do i hold her, validate her frustrations and fears, or will that feed into them too much? do i model nonchalance, or will that invalidate her feelings? the mama bear in me wants to snarl and slash at anything that causes her pain & drive it all away forever, but i know that isn't going to help her learn and grow into a resilient and confident young woman. i just need to find the balance somehow.
this is the stuff no one tells you about when you get pregnant.
blessings and gratitude to you all,
the hardest lesson to learn, which took a LOT of work and a LOT of heartache... was discovering that our children just want support from us. they don't want us to jump in and fix their world. they want to do the fighting and battling. they just want to know at the end of the day when life seems so heavy will we be there for them. and yes they do test you to see if you can be there for them.
it is sooooo not easy being there for them - on their terms.
Binx as my professors pointed out to me 'don't overthink. just DO' - just jump in. and as long as it IS about your child and not about you (another huge lesson to learn) you cant go wrong.
for myself I have discovered parenting has been more about self discovery rather than how to parent. the more I learn about myself and my needs and give myself permission to meet my needs - I am so much better as a parent.
all these years dd has been a HNs child. super high needs. she has been very vocal of what she needs from me.
no more of that. she shrugs things of as oh not important. but now she wants to me guess what is important for HER. I can no longer go by her words. she is a good actress so can hide her feelings which makes it hard to figure out what is really important and what is not. so to me parenting has got so much more difficult.
this is all so helpful. i do realize i have my own "stuff", which is another reason i am trying to tread as carefully as possible through this uncharted territory. DD and i are cut from the same cloth with respect to our sensitivity, and, like i said, i didn't have a supportive mother since she didn't really "get" me, and couldn't be there for me. when i found out i was having a baby, i prayed that DD would be more like DH; alas,that prayer wasn't answered. but maybe it's better this way since i have a better chance at understanding what she might need and be there for her given our kindred spirits.
it is incredibly encouraging to know that your DD is able to shrug things off. i think that is my one of my biggest concerns--that my DD will end up taking everything so personally and be so brutally wounded by slights of others for the rest of her days. i want her to learn her own value and place in the world, independent of others' judgment. and it sounds like if i am patient and follow her lead, that will be the inevitable result.
thank you for sharing this wisdom.
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