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MY DAUGH­TER HAS VERY LOW SELF-ES­TEEM

Q My daugh­ter’s friends are far more so­cially con­fi­dent than she is on­line and she feels like she can’t com­pete with them. She says she feels worth­less com­pared to them. They are also do­ing well with their school grades and com­pared to them she’s fall­ing be­hind. Can you help us?

A Ir­re­spec­tive of our age we all oc­ca­sion­ally go through pe­ri­ods when we com­pare our­selves to oth­ers, we ques­tion ‘where do I fit in’ and our po­si­tion in life’s grand plan. This is per­fectly nor­mal, how­ever, when this trait lingers it can be­gin to af­fect a per­son’s con­fi­dence lev­els.

Feel­ings of self-doubt or worth­less­ness are fur­ther com­pounded by com­par­ing our­selves to other peo­ple on so­cial me­dia – some­thing that has be­come vir­tu­ally un­avoid­able these days. So we need to teach her to be ut­terly dis­cern­ing in this re­gard.

With age should come ex­pe­ri­ence and with ex­pe­ri­ence should come good judge­ment –the abil­ity to be dis­cern­ing and ob­jec­tive about oth­ers and about sit­u­a­tions. As a young­ster still at school she will be sus­cep­ti­ble to the pres­sures of com­par­isons and the associated neg­a­tive feel­ings, af­ter all, school is a com­pet­i­tive en­vi­ron­ment, where eval­u­a­tions of her ver­sus oth­ers is likely.

You have an op­por­tu­nity here to change the way she thinks about her­self though, about her own per­sonal con­fi­dence lev­els and about your own aca­demic per­for­mance tar­gets. You must be un­fail­ingly sup­port­ive in this re­gard.

Don’t al­low the achieve­ments or per­son­al­i­ties of oth­ers to have such a strong im­pact on both her mood and her out­look – in­stead fo­cus on the pos­i­tives and on the ‘big­ger pic­ture’ for her. It’s time she took back her self-worth and re-val­ues her­self again – the real per­son. In­stead of wast­ing time watch­ing oth­ers with envy, she should be busy think­ing about what it is that re­ally makes her ‘her’

Ev­ery­one has dif­fer­ent skills and tal­ents and just be­cause some­one pos­sesses con­ven­tional main­stream so­cial skills, or is achiev­ing higher grades, that doesn’t de­tract from what she has achieved or more per­ti­nently what she will go on to achieve.

If her grades are slip­ping it’s best to dis­cuss your con­cerns with the school and for­mu­late a plan, maybe ad­di­tional sup­port is re­quired in cer­tain ar­eas. There’s no shame in ask­ing for this and by get­ting it early, it can help fur­ther aca­demic per­for­mance is­sues from form­ing and safe­guard her from fall­ing into a cy­cle of lower achieve­ment. Re­mem­ber if she’s let­ting the per­for­mance of her peers push her into a state of worry over her own grades, she could be speed­ing up the rate at which they de­cline.

This con­cern and lack of con­fi­dence com­pared to her ‘friends’, leads me to ask if these are gen­uine friends at all? Young­sters – and girls in par­tic­u­lar – can be cruel and I’m con­cerned what role in the peck­ing or­der your daugh­ter un­der­takes. This might be the time to edge her to­wards a new friend­ship group she will feel more con­fi­dent and com­fort­able with.

All too of­ten peo­ple can make it ap­pear like their lives are com­pletely per­fect on so­cial me­dia and feel­ing like we just sim­ply don’t ‘mea­sure up’ is now an in­creas­ingly com­mon is­sue. But don’t for­get, we all have skills that oth­ers don’t have (and vice versa).

Fi­nally, some of the most in­ter­est­ing, dy­namic, suc­cess­ful and tal­ented peo­ple I’ve met went through school with a de­gree of so­cial awk­ward­ness and lower con­fi­dence lev­els; but when they even­tu­ally found their feet and dis­cov­ered they were unique and tal­ented, they found they had far more to of­fer than the ob­vi­ous.

All too of­ten PEO­PLE can make it AP­PEAR like their LIVES are com­pletely per­fect on SO­CIAL ME­DIA and feel­ing like we just sim­ply don’t ‘MEA­SURE UP’ is now an IN­CREAS­INGLY com­mon is­sue

RUS­SELL HEM­MINGS is a life coach, and clin­i­cal and cog­ni­tive be­havioural hyp­nother­a­pist

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