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Teach your children self-confidence to fight bullying

Dr. Jacqueline Y. Smart

Parents, it is important to teach your child to have a positive selfimage. They must learn to like who they see in the mirror. Bullies can easily spot and will usually target a person with low self-esteem. Just as learning how to walk and talk is essential to a child's development, so is having good self-esteem. It is the foundation of who we are and everything that we do. Processing a positive self-image is an important component to our future.

To build self-esteem, we must show genuine love and accept our children for who they are. This acceptance includes their good and bad points. This is the foundation of building self-esteem.

Remember not to be too harsh when correcting inappropriate behavior. This is an area of improvement for me. I worked with a different population of students and I had to have a stronger and tougher personality. When working with students who are self-disciplined, having a lighter demeanor may be more appropriate.

We don't want to change who the child is. We want to validate the child without trying to change things about them to our "terms." Make your child feel valuable and build self-esteem even when behavior is being corrected.

Use kind words to praise your child. Praising gives kids the message that you accept and appreciate them as they are. This action teaches them to praise themselves and to recognize and value their own efforts and talents.

Be careful with going overboard with praise; it can create a selfish personality in your child.

Here are a few examples of how to praise and build self-esteem:

  • Show your child unconditional love.
  • Put "I love you" notes in their lunch boxes/bags.
  • Stop by school and have lunch with them.
  • Consider enrolling your child in martial arts or karate class to help with building confidence.
  • Give your child many hugs, smiles, eye contact, quality time, encouragement, non-judgmental attitudes, no put-downs and lots of kisses.

The more kids know that they are loved, the better their selfesteem will be. Bullies usually stay away from kids who know that they are loved. These types of kids usually are not afraid to stand up for themselves. Remember, bullies want an easy target.

Jacqueline Y. Smart is a middle school teacher and has been employed with the Savannah-Chatham school system since 2000. She has earned her Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership from Cambridge College School of Education. Send your questions and comments to or