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What to do about a child who always perceives the glass as half-empty, not half-full?

(10 Posts)
Caligula Mon 30-May-05 22:30:37

My DS (6) since he was about 18 months, has been a cautious and timid child, not very willing to try new things and quite pessimistic. He will exaggerate bad things and come up with improbable scenarios. Example scenario:

Me: You’ve been naughty so you can’t go to Nanny’s today.
DS: (whining, crying) Does that mean I’ll never ever go to Nanny’s ever again?
Me: (testy, gritting teeth) I said today, not never, ever, didn’t I?

And when I reasonably tell him off and talk him through why such and such is not allowed, he will cry and say things like “everything I do is bad… you’re right Mummy… why am I always wrong…” Yesterday he said “I’m so useless”, which really upset me.

I always try and focus on really positive things, praising him, spending time with him, doing things with him and not saying negative things to him like “you’re stupid” or “you’re naughty”. But he seems to have really low self-esteem and self-confidence and I have no idea what more I can do to boost his ego and make him into a more positive, happy child. It doesn’t help that DD, who is almost 3 years younger than him, is incredibly self-confident, boisterous and charming, and people pay her masses of attention. When DS was between 6 months and 2 years old, his primary carer was xp, who neglected him quite badly, and until he was about four or so, I put his timidity and lack of confidence down to the after-effects of that lack of positive attention. But now I feel that although he improved massively, he is still much less confident and happy than the reinforcement he gets would predict, and as he has now lived most of his time with me and without the person who damaged him so badly (we split when DS was almost 2 and a half) perhaps I'm continuing to do something massively wrong. Does anyone have any advice?

trefusis Mon 30-May-05 22:40:35

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jjash Mon 30-May-05 22:42:59

No advice as such but i can see where you are coming from .My 5 [nearly 6] year old ds is also lacking in confidence .He`s a very capable little boy but gets really worried if he cant do something ie gets really upset if he struggles with his homework etc.
We do lots of positive praise and i have found the old sticker chart idea works well cos he can visually see how well we think hes doing .Wealso have a jar he painted himself that we put 10p`s in for him for completing daily tasks - just like dressing himself etc .All just to boost his confidence.Its slow progress but seems to help .He is obviously sensitive which is fine but i want for him to be able to hold his own and feel as good as anyone else.
Keep going with your praises !

trefusis Mon 30-May-05 22:43:41

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Caligula Mon 30-May-05 22:44:59

Hmm, there might be something in that Trefusis, it hadn't occurred to me before. I've always been so eager to reassure him that he's worthwhile etc., perhaps I've been over-compensating for his early experiences and it's become a bad habit for him as he knows he'll always get a sympathetic reaction (driven by guilt)

jjash Mon 30-May-05 22:45:10

jst read trefusis post and agree totally - we try to [nicely] dismiss ds`s negative moments and then really exaggerate our attention to times he is positive .

trefusis Mon 30-May-05 22:48:59

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whymummy Mon 30-May-05 22:52:04

i agree with trefusis caligula,my ds is 7 and he always comes up with things like that,he'll come out of school smiling and when he sees me he goes all sad and says things like "nobody likes me" "i had a horrible day" etc,if i tell him off about something he says "i know,i'm useless" the other day i refused to buy him a toy and he said "mummy you don't know how i feel inside,my heart is breaking" eeeeyyyy???i'm thinking about getting him into drama school,honestly caligula don't worry i think is just a phase

Caligula Tue 31-May-05 09:14:36

PMSL at the heart is breaking Whymummy, I think drama school does sound like the way forward - an Oscar beckons!

whymummy Tue 31-May-05 09:21:36

LOL,that's just one of many,the other day when his friend left he said "oh mummy,i just feel so empty inside"
right i'm off to find the stagecoach number

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