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Any ideas how to boost DS2's self-esteem?

(10 Posts)
PacificDogwood Thu 23-Jun-11 22:06:02

He is 7.
And is doing just fine, but that is not how he sees it sad.
He frequently says 'I am ulgy' 'I am stupid' 'Nobody likes me' 'I am rubbish'.

His glass is always half empty.
He is never happy with whatever he has and he always compares himself (unfavourably) to his oder brother. DS1 is 8, a very happy chappy, popular and academically gifted.

My fear that by comparing himself with his brother, DS2 will just opt out and not try in order to not fail by not trying IYKWIM?

I very much make a conscious effort to not compare the 2 of them (there is also 2 younger DSs) and I do acknowledge his feelings. He is the physically more talented which he just dismisses as not important. And I am so sad for him for being unhappy so often.

Any ideas??

CarrieOakey Thu 23-Jun-11 22:12:21

Oh Pacific my DD is just like this. She can be so negative and is so hard on herself. Like your son she is doing very well at school but she can't see it. I try and acknowledge how she is feeling but it's hard especially when the whole family feels affected by her negativity.

I googled negativity a while ago. I found one tip that seems to be working. When she is on a downer I don't she realises how much of an affect she is having on us all. I acknowledge her feelings to a point but when I can't do anymore I say to her "DD sort it out" (in a nice voice). She knows this is a signal which says "the only person who can sort this out is you. Chin up!"

I have been so amazed at how this works. She comes back with a smile and we carry on with whatever family activity we were doing. Overall she seems a bit happier.

magicstick Thu 23-Jun-11 22:16:17

Talk to him about everybody is different and we all have things were good at.
Let him know that there will be things that he is best at and somethings his brother will be best at. Try to grt him involved in a club that he can go on his own to, maybe football or something when he sees he can do well he wont want to compare himself to his brother.

PacificDogwood Thu 23-Jun-11 22:16:27

Hi, Carrie, yes, I try that kind of strategy as well: 'You tell me what will make you feel better then'. And sometimes he will come up with something.

He is exactly 1 year younger than his older brother, but emotionally much younger which does not help either.

I think the other thing is that I see my mother's negativity in him and I'd really rather he would not go through life quite as miserable pessimistic as her.

mumsiepie Thu 23-Jun-11 22:18:18

If you speak to him just as he is going off to sleep he will be in what is called the Hypnogogic State and he will absorb whatever you say. Say loads of positive things to him and tell him how you think he will be feeling in the morning ie happy, full of beans etc It is really effective and in the morning he really will wake up feeling ie happy, full of beans. x

PacificDogwood Thu 23-Jun-11 22:23:40

magic, gawd, yes, an activity that is just his and not his brothers: I am sure you are right and that would help. But will he go and try something?? No, he won't: 'Only if DS1 comes as well' - and the competing/comparing commences. Gah!

For instance, they both did Tae Kwon Do, both got their first belts etc. For the next grading a bit more practicing was required, so DS2 decides to stop. I dragged him along for another 4 months or so and then gave up. He has now had a break of 6 months, his brother as achieved the next belt. DS2 is keen to go back again, but is aggrieved that he will be 'behind' his brother. No amount of pointing out that if he gets his next belt with the next grading he will still be 6 months younger than DS1 was when he got his will stop him from being bitter and hard done by.

I have suggested various other activities/sports to him, but they are all 'rubbish' apparently hmm. In fact, 'rubbish' has become a bit of a catch phrase in this house to the point where bringing the actual rubbish outside can reduce us to tears of laughter blush.

PacificDogwood Thu 23-Jun-11 22:24:30

mumsie, that is a brilliant idea - I will try that, thanks!

whippet Thu 23-Jun-11 22:41:18

OH Pacific - I could have written your post sad
My DS1 is popular, academically gifted, good at music, also old in year etc

DS2 is youngest, has found things harder, and we've yet to really discover what his 'thing' is, although he seems more arty/drama orientated.

We've just tried really hard to emphasise that everyone has strengths and weaknesses - Mummy is not very good at Maths, but is great at English; Daddy can't remember people's names, but can read maps; DS2 is great at being organised (DS1 is AWFUL at this, so DS2 delights in this...).

It's worth making a list of the things DS2 IS good at - even if it seems quite hard at first to get beyond the academic/sport things.

My DS2 had some surprising hidden strengths: e.g.
- great at facial expressions when acting
- good 'EQ' - notices body language/ people's emotions
- has a great sense of smell (we joke that he is the family 'nose' and say, "DS - does this milk smell 'off' to you? etc)
- good at drawing cartoons

What's interesting is that there is something of a self-fulfilling prophecy - DS2 now is more interested in drama because we kept telling him he was good at it, and actually since that, he has become even better at it.

PacificDogwood Thu 23-Jun-11 22:58:26

whippet, good idea to actually write a list of what he is good at down.

Re EQ: my DS2 is good at that too. But - he uses his power for Evil wink: he knows exactly how to push his insane prone to temper tantrums 3 year old brother's buttons: cue full blown nuclear melt-down <<sighs>>

I am sure a lot of his needling is attention seeking and done because it somehow make his feel 'superior' hmm.

It is the self-fulfilling prophecy I am worried about: if he tells himself often enough 'nobody likes me', that might just come to pass sad.

whippet Fri 24-Jun-11 10:08:16

Pacific - yes - I worry about the self-fulfilling prophecy thing too.

I hate big-headed bragging children (and parents!) so we've never encouraged our kids to brag about their achievements, but sometimes I think we've gone too far in the other direction! I read something that made me think about this - it said that children need praise much more repeatedly than adults for them to take it in/ believe it. I think perhaps we just haven't made enough fuss of the things DS2 is good at.

I think I posted a similar thread a few years ago and got some good advice, including:

- make a list of your child's strengths (whatever they are!)
- have pictures on display of your kids doingthings which made you proud (DH has created a file on the computer which scrolls as 'backgrounds' - it includes pics of climbing mountains/ doing stuff at cubs/ playing an instrument etc
- let your child hear you say positive things about them in their earshot - to good friends/ family members, who won't think you're being too 'bragging'

You've now reminded me that I need to do more of these things again! SOme have slipped a bit!

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