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Curing Low Self-Esteem
Q: My fourth-grader is concerned that no one likes him. His teachers don't see a problem in class and say that everyone seems to like him. He doesn't make friends very easily and is usually the child that is picked on in non-school settings. How do you encourage social skills at this age?
A: Try to help your son find friends with similar interests. A soccer team, Boy Scout troop, or computer group can provide lots of opportunities to work on social skills in a setting that is low-risk. Since you say that your son is sometimes picked on, you may want to encourage friendships in the neighborhood and in non-school settings with children who are a year or so younger than your son until he has more confidence in his friendship skills.
Talk also with the school counselor. He or she may be able to give your son some individual time or include him in a small group on friendship or good social skills. The counselor could also work with your son on assertiveness and help him find some leadership roles in the school.
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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.