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Experiencing Disappointments

As kids' world of school and activities expands, it means more rules, tests, and competition. But not everyone can come out on top, and when children fall short, they may lose confidence in themselves.

Discovering that doing your best may not be good enough is hard. "Some people are better at some things than others, and it may take years to improve a skill. That's life," says Jenn Berman, psychotherapist and author of The A to Z Guide to Raising Happy, Confident Kids. "Kids need to learn to say, 'This I'm good at, this I'm not, but I can get better, and I can have fun trying.'"

How can you help your child get there?

Keep the focus on her.
Rather than tell her "You swam farther than Justin!" say "You swam much farther today than you did yesterday."
Teach her to ask for and offer help.
If she's just learning to skate, she could say to a friend, "You make it look easy. Can you help me balance?" If she's the better skater, she might offer a newbie some assistance. Helping and getting help from peers can make kids feel comfortable.
Remind her to enjoy the ride.
Talk about activities you can enjoy without excelling in them: Lots of people love to bike, but few can be Lance Armstrong. Working to get better or competing can be part of the fun but not the goal.
Help her finish what she starts.
If she's discouraged, agree on the number of lessons she'll have or the skill level she'll reach before she can quit. (And at that point, she may not want to!)
Sometimes, let it go.
There are things kids want to do (play guitar) and things they have to do (learn to swim). It's okay to release a kid from a "want to"activity once she gives it a fair shake-especially if it's become a pain for both of you.

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