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Your 8-year-old now
Once upon a time, your child's self-esteem was largely based on what she heard from the adults in her world. Now she's evaluating herself based on the opinions of her peers.
Some say that girls' self-esteem peaks around age 9. Then it plummets as they grow ever more influenced by peers and the media, and as puberty shifts their focus even more to their appearance and bodies. Increasingly, there are reports of boys' esteem falling prey to these same influences.
Kids with strong self-esteem feel secure and loved. Help your child develop healthy self-esteem by starting with yourself. Monitor your comments about the appearance of your child, others, and yourself. Don't get overly invested in decisions about clothing and hair; let your child sort these things out herself while you retain veto power.
Involve your child in sports and other physical activity, which can make her feel better in mind and body, boost her mood, and provide a peer group. Encourage your child to pursue interests whether or not they match traditional gender roles (maybe your daughter likes science or your son is drawn to ballet).
Limit media exposure or keep it age-appropriate. You don't have to throw out the TV (although some families do), but you don't have to buy Cosmo Girl for your daughter or muscle 'zines for your son. Avoid talking about possible "boyfriends" and "girlfriends," even in jest.
Emphasize who your child is right now for herself. Take pains not to compare her to siblings, friends, child actors, or anyone else. Celebrate your child for who she is, her personality, sense of humor, helpfulness, academic accomplishments, and so on.
Your life now
Can't bear to navigate a toy store before a birthday party? Try picking up a gift where you are:
- the hardware store: flashlights, gardening tools, birdhouses
- the office-supply store: art materials, desk accessories
- the computer store: games, art programs
- the museum gift shop: educational toys, books, funky t-shirts
- the music store: harmonicas, recorders, and tambourines
- the bike shop: baskets and bells, water bottles, stylin' helmets
- the housewares store: kids' cooking ware, fun decorative pillows, character sheet sets
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