From Ask the Parent Coach
Q. My 10 year old son is really hard on himself. Whenever he makes a little mistake he calls himself stupid. We try to be very encouraging and point out how great he is but he shrugs it off. He’s very smart and has lots of friends. Any suggestions?
A. I hear this question a lot and I can appreciate how hard it is to hear your son put himself down in such a harsh way. Obviously, you’d like to help him feel less critical of himself. Often, this kind of problem stems from the fact that he has such high expectations of himself that it’s too difficult for him to reach them. When he falls short, he may feel quite upset with himself, and may worry about what others will think of him too. These are the moments when he puts himself down. The key here is to work on improving his self- esteem. This will mean helping him set realistic standards, and also being more compassionate with himself when he makes mistakes. Helping him learn that mistakes are not terrible things is essential.