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Ready for Kindergarten?

Elementary School Expert Advice from Barbara Potts

Q: I just met with my daughter's preschool teacher to discuss kindergarten readiness. She is definitely at or above the intellectual level needed for kindergarten, but emotionally, she needs to mature. She's a perfectionist and explodes or cries if she doesn't get it right the first time. She is already very hesitant to try something new if it looks "too hard." Do you have any suggestions on how we can build her self-esteem?

A: Self-esteem increases as children experience success. Help your daughter feel successful in her attempts to do things, even if the results are not perfect. Developing self-control should be an important part of her success.

Talk with the teacher about reinforcing your daughter's attempts at self-control. If your daughter "explodes" when she makes a mistake, ask the teacher to let her sit in time-out for five minutes or until she is back in control. If your daughter cries, the teacher can explain that she will talk to your daughter when she is calm. The awareness of the other children can also serve as a deterrent to your daughter's poor behavior.

Be sure to provide opportunities for your daughter to attempt new things successfully, both at school and in other settings. At the same time you can model how to handle problems appropriately: If you take her bowling, show her your reaction when you roll a gutter ball; if you are cooking a meal, show her your reaction when you spill something or make a mistake.

If you are concerned that your daughter may need additional help with her perfectionism and self-control issues, your pediatrician can refer you to a therapist in your community.

More on: Expert Advice

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.


Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of FamilyEducation.com should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.

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