Children need positive feedback, encouragement in academics

"Children need information, not derogation," said Ethna R. Reid.

She posed a question wondering what children would think of themselves if the only mirror they ever used was a bent, amusement park mirror. This is like the image they gain of themselves when their parents are negative and critical, she said."Tell children their good points and why you are proud of them," she said, "although it is not valuable to tell them things that are not true."

She also encouraged instilling high academic values in a family. "The chances are one in 432 that your child will be a doctor, one in 350 that your child will be a lawyer, and one in 107 that your child will be a teacher," she said. "But the chances are one in five that your child will be illiterate."

She encouraged making academic achievement a priority over other activities, including athletics and television watching.

Parents also need to be examples of learning and behavior. "Don't be like the teacher who said, `I am yelling at my students to be nice,' " she said. "If we want our children to be happy, capable and thoughtful, we have to be that way ourselves."


Reaching youth in the margins

General factors about youth out of the mainstream were discussed by the Rev. David J. Butler, minister of the Jordan United Methodist Church. He has presented national workshops on suicide and self-abuse.

Spend as much time with the youth who are not active as with the "seminary kids." "We end up losing the ones who are at greatest risk. Of great concern to me are the numbers of marginalized inactives of the LDS or other churches."

As far as possible, have a variety of personalities in the youth leaders. "Try to have youth leaders who are outgoing, who are mainstream, and who are quiet. This assures that everyone has someone he or she can relate to. It is possible that the kids at greatest risk have absolutely no one to go to."

If you have a runaway, ask questions. "What did this youth run away from?'

When a youth divulges that he or she has been abused, make a commitment to continue caring for youth, even if a therapist takes over the case. This caring is not something that can be dropped after you are released. The person will feel abandoned.

Be accountable for what you say to youth.

Teach young people that they are responsible for their actions, but they are not responsible for other people's feelings. Other people are responsible for their own feelings. "We teach our children, `You make me so angry,' " he said. "That's a big load for kid."

If a tragedy strikes, offer support to the entire congregation, not just the immediate family.

Increase your child's self-esteem 10 ways

Inventory assets: When your child has a bad day, as everyone does, remember the good days, the fun times. Reminding the child of one of his or her strengths can help. Be a talent scout.

Custom tailor family work assignments: Requiring a 7-year-old to practice the piano for 20 minutes with mother sitting by the child is reasonable. Requiring a 12-year-old to practice the piano 40 minutes without mother is also reasonable.

Share family time: Being together as a family is one thing you can't buy. There has to be a special time when the family has fun together.

Keep a scrapbook: Family pride is one of the most important elements in building self-esteem. Include the achievements of the extended family. Hang up pictures of the grandparents.

Make a success book for each child: Three types of things can be included in this book. First, things the child enjoys. For example, when the family visited a factory. Second, things the child does well; Scouting or Primary awards or 4-H awards, for example. Third, things the child is proud of, a new baby brother, or pet.

One family listed accomplishments of the week during family home evening, and reviewed them a week later.

Identify heroes and heroines: Bring into the home pictures and words of famous people of character. Think great thoughts. Consider having a hero of the week to feature. Also remember heroic people that the children have contact with on a regular basis that they can look up to.

Teach money management: Children ought not to grow up as slaves to money. Start with a small allowance and help them learn to use it wisely.

Listen to children in helping them set goals. Make this the one-on-one time when parent and child resolve problems and make decisions on what goals children should work toward.

Set a personal example: Parents can show children that they are always growing and improving. Parents should take care of their own responsibilities and not have their children be slaves to them. Let children be children.

Motivate through love: Criticism destroys self-esteem. Labeling is disabling. Parents should admit it when they say things they shouldn't have said. Mirror a positive image to your child by telling them of their good points. - Ethna R. Reid, director of the Exemplary Center for Reading Instruction and of the Reid School

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