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Q: My husband and I are concerned about our fifth-grader's attitude and self-esteem -- she's always putting herself down. Also, is it normal for kids to like someone one day and dislike them the next? How do I stay close to my daughter? My husband and I are trying hard to be understanding and supportive, but we don't think we're doing a very good job.
A: The behaviors you describe are typical for fifth-grade girls. It is common to see girls who have been friends since kindergarten suddenly fighting and disliking each other.
If you and your husband are being understanding and supportive, you are doing what you need to do. Your daughter needs your support through this stage in her life. Since everything else seems to her to be changing from day to day, she especially needs to know that you are there for her and that you will respond to her consistently.
If you begin to believe that your daughter's behaviors and her self-esteem issues are becoming excessive, you may want to seek counseling for her. Talk with the school counselor or your pediatrician for a referral to a therapist in your community.
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Barbara Potts has worked as an elementary school counselor for many years. She has a BA in psychology from Wake Forest University, and an M.Ed. in Guidance and Counseling from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.