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Published on November 20, 2012, by in Au Pair.

Struggling with schoolwork can leave kids feeling stripped of their self-esteem and convinced that they aren’t as intelligent as their peers. Hearing your child speak about themselves so negatively can be very upsetting to parents, but there are ways to help them get back on track and feeling better about themselves again. Here are 10 ways that you can help your struggling child to get back to feeling normal.

  1. Put the Emphasis on Effort – Instead of focusing solely on the grade a struggling child brings home, emphasize the fact that he or she tried their very best and put a lot of effort into their attempt.
  2. Offer Extra Help – When one bombed test is just a bump in the road for an otherwise good student, the situation may only require a little bit of extra attention and help from a parent. Set aside a portion of each evening to dedicate to your child’s homework or study time, and help them with concepts that they’re having trouble grasping.
  3. Hire a Tutor – If your child is starting to struggle regularly in a particular area, it might be a good idea to hire a tutor or look into the learning assistance programs in your city. Sometimes a problem can be corrected with a bit of one-on-one attention.
  4. Watch What You Say About Yourself – Kids that overhear their parents speaking poorly of themselves also tend to exhibit more self-esteem issues than their peers. If you have a habit of criticizing your own intelligence or merits aloud, your child may learn to mimic that behavior.
  5. Be Gentle, But Honest – Instead of filling kids with unrealistic expectations, it’s best to be honest while focusing on the positives. Rather than saying, “I’m sure you’ll make a 100 on that test!” it’s better for your child’s self-esteem to share a positive but more realistic, “You’ve been studying really hard for this test, and I’m proud of the effort you’re making.”
  6. Correct Inaccurate Statements – When your child says things like, “I’m so dumb, I can’t even pass this spelling test!” it’s important to correct them immediately with an explanation that they’re not “so dumb,” just that their strengths are in other areas.
  7. Keep Feedback Positive – Using phrases like “you always…” and “you never…” only puts more pressure on your child to perform in a way that they feel is acceptable to you. Instead of using these loaded terms, try to keep your feedback both relevant and positive.
  8. Get Involved With an Activity in Which Your Child Excels – Kids can get a major confidence boost by becoming involved in an activity in which they’re strong performers. When they experience a degree of success in another area, their confidence level will rise and their grades may follow.
  9. Don’t Get Frustrated – It can be difficult to keep your composure when your child is berating herself, and even more so when she’s doing it after you’ve explained the same concept several times. It’s of the utmost importance that you don’t show that frustration, as it will only upset her more and make focusing that much more difficult.
  10. Talk to the Teacher – Should academic problems become a cause for concern, it’s best to set up a meeting with your child’s teacher to determine what their strengths and weaknesses are and if there’s any possibility of a learning disability that would require special attention.

It can certainly be heartbreaking to hear your child say that he or she feels unworthy in any way; assuring them that they are loved and valued regardless of their grades is one of the most important things you can do for a struggling child.

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