Wednesday, December 29, 2010

How to Build Your Child's Self-Confidence

The holidays can be tough for adults, but don’t forget that the holiday season can also be difficult for children and young adults. They encounter challenging situations in everyday life at school, with peers, and with parents. With the new year, learn how to become an even more effective parent and help build your child’s self confidence! Help them start the year out right following these easy tips!

The Early Years:

Be a Good Role Model - Do as I do and as I say! Be very careful what you do around your developing child because he is developing cognitively, socially, and emotionally every day. Your child uses you as the template on how to act in a variety of situations.

Encourage Your Child - Confidence comes from successfully experiencing new things. These tasks do not need to be difficult. Even the simplest things can build confidence.

Do Not Over Praise - Children do not need to be praised for each and every thing they complete, especially those behaviors that are expected. Praising in this way can cause it to lose its meaning and effectiveness.

Do Not Underestimate Your Child’s Ability - Try not to always say “Let me do that for you.” Allow your child to try tasks for himself. If he struggles, show him tips regarding how he can work on it and eventually successfully complete the task.

Socialize - Find ways to have your child meet new friends and participate in organized activities (such as sports). Children build confidence from those around them and socializing provides them with an opportunity to showcase their talents and receive feedback (from someone other than their parents!).

The Teen Years:

Celebrate Strengths- When the going gets tough, we tend to focus on the negative far more than the positive. If you find that you are constantly pointing out your teen’s negatives, pick two positives for each negative comment. Try to do this each day.

Encourage Them to Do What They Love -…and support them! Encourage your teen to play sports, be in the school play, etc., if that is what he is passionate about. Support him when he is doing well and encourage him to do his best when things do not go so well.

Help Them Go Easy on Themselves- Let your teen know that she does not have to be perfect all the time and that it is normal to feel insecure. Encourage her to face her fears and be confident in her ability to do so. Give her tips from your own experiences to show her you understand.

Be There- Sometimes teens do not want advice, they just want someone to listen and empathize. They will let you know when they want your opinions.

Helpful Resources:

Building Self-Esteem in Teenagers, by Estela Kennen:

Child Self Confidence Tips:

Self-Confidence Boosters for Your Child: Tips for Parents, By Silvania Clark:

Self-Confidence for Kids: 4 Tips to Help Your Child Gain Self Confidence, By Pinkie McBanon:

Weekly Parenting Tips: Building Self- Confidence, By Jennifer Shakeel:

Dr. Elise Abromson is a Licensed Psychologist who works with children, teens, and families. She can be reached through email at or at (301) 712-9015 ext. 1018. For more information about Dr. Elise’s services please visit her website at

Parent's Corner: New Year's Resolutions

At the start of 2011, many parents and caregivers will begin to make New Year Resolutions for themselves and their families. While setting goals can be a wonderful thing, we often identify our resolutions from perceived failures. As a result, we are beginning our goal setting from a negative frame of mind and often with unrealistic expectations. This year, start off 2011 with a look back on all of the successes that you and your children have had and aspire to set goals that build upon those strengths. Coming from a place of positivity creates energy and confidence.

Once you begin identifying your resolutions or goals keep a few things in mind:

Create goals that are realistic. You can't run a marathon before you can run a mile. Identify areas you and your children would like to improve and create attainable steps in the process.

Identify goals that are developmentally and age appropriate and suit your family. What is right for one child or family isn't necessarily right for another.

Set goals that are specific and measurable so that you are able to recognize and reward progress.

Resolve to laugh more, increase family activities like reading together or playing games and catch your kids being good. In addition to adding fun to your lives these resolutions will increase family communication, strengthen relationships and build self-esteem.

Finally, as a parent/caregiver differentiate between self-care and selfishness. People often don't do things for themselves because they believe it to be selfish and instead focus on the needs and desires of others. In order to be your best self and have the physical and emotional energy to care for others, you must first care for yourself. Keep in mind one of the first safety rules you are given when you fly: always put the oxygen mask on yourself first!

Best wishes for a healthy and happy new year!

Kristi Hallman, LCSW-C

301-712-9015, Ext. 1012

A New Year's Resolution: Weight Loss Success Through Wellness

Before you spend money on another diet book, pill or fad, let’s look at what are a few of your diet expectations. Often dieters place unrealistic demands on themselves both mentally and physically as the number on a scale quickly becomes a consuming focus. Over time, the number on the scale can become the only measure of self-esteem which provides a sense of success or failure.

It is commonplace that the diet systems and programs advertised encourage success as rapid weight loss, rather than a lifestyle that supports healthy body weight and fitness. So before joining a program or ordering your meals from a box, I encourage you to take this to heart and consider 95% of all dieters will regain their lost weight in 1-5 years. And of those normal dieters, 35% will progress to pathological dieting. And of these dieters 25% will progress to a partial or full eating disorder. In addition, due to the socially supported misconception that diets are the primary success factor in weight loss, Americans spend over $50 billion on dieting and diet-related products each year, while according to the CDC over the past 20 years there has been a dramatic increase in obesity in the United States. In 2009, only Colorado and the District of Columbia had a prevalence of obesity less than 20%.Whereas within other areas of the US rates are 25% or higher.

How is it possible to achieve your weight loss goal?

The simplest and the most important answer is; don’t continue to do what doesn’t work. Intuitively this makes sense, yet thousands of Americans return to a diet plan or program in high hopes that this time will be different- only to discover losing weight has become more of a frustrating, exhaustive battle.

Have you noticed that many weight loss programs promote a fresh attempt to override our own thoughts and feelings by ignoring the messages our body communicates - no effort weight loss. In dieting, often we are declaring an emotional war on our body through restriction, denial of certain foods or extreme behavioral changes. Doesn’t it makes sense that your body will respond and resist to protect you?

The answer to successful and lasting weight loss begins with a new view of our physical selves. In therapy we learn to curiously explore our unique connect with body, mind and spirit through continued self awareness and learning to listen to our bodies and our inner voice of support. These same skills are applicable and are essential for your weight loss goal.

Tips to Maximize Weight Loss Success

* When you decide not to go on a diet, you’ll never experience diet failure.

* Include your therapist as support in your weight loss goals.

* Redefine your weight loss goal as self care, honoring and not punishing your body.

* Take time daily to incorporate mindfulness techniques while learning new ones.

* Remind yourself that your body isn’t your enemy - learn to listen to the language it speaks.

* Give yourself permission to take time to enjoy the food you eat - taste each and every bite.

* Catch yourself caring for you as a regular habit rather than being your biggest critic.

* Acknowledge your feelings- don’t numb them with food.

* Just as you have become an expert on diets, become an expert on healthy nutrition. Along with therapy, seek out a professional nutritionist to learn more about what your body is telling you.

* Finally, only you can decide that 2011 will be your happiest and healthiest year ever - why wait?

By Lynne Ramirez LGSW, SAP,NCACII

301-712-9015, Ext. 1026