Give to others it boomerangs back to you

Another simple way of building your self-esteem is by giving to others. This works for lots of reasons. Kids like kids who like them. All children love special attention, especially if you show interest in their favourite subject - themselves. Once you do something to make someone else feel good, they are likely to return the compliment or favour and do something for you. When you are friendly, considerate and caring it can boomerang back to you. It may not happen immedi ately, but later on you will reap the benefits. At any school, everyone seems to know and respect the friendly, cheerful, generous children. They aren't bullied very often.

There are lots of ways you can give to children or adults. It may be as simple as smiling at five new people a day, helping a child with difficulties, or showing regular interest in someone else's hobbies, experiences or problems. If you help another child who is being bullied - e.g. by reporting to the teacher instead of doing nothing - or play with children who are alone, you can become a courageous kid.

Write down your gifts to others at school (e.g. chatted to the librarian, talked with a student from another class, complimented a child in your class). You may even try the same exercise at home with your family and see how you score.

Today

Yesterday Last week.. Other times.

Tips for parents

Help your child rebuild his self-esteem so he has energy and confidence to block the bully and communicate at school.

• Enable him to improve the cause of the tease where possible, e.g. if the tease is about his hairstyle or uniform, help him change it. Or, if he can't play sport very well, help him practise.

• Be creative - place a note under his pillow or in his lunchbox; send a text message or email; praise your child in front of others.

• Encourage him to be more interesting, e.g. develop a hobby or special interest, learn the names of everyone in a team or a popular band.

• Enrol him in extra activities, e.g. Scouts, drama, holiday programmes.

• Play games to build confidence and social skills. Forget the electronic stuff - get out a ball, board game or cards and show him how to become a social winner or loser.

• Do things together, e.g. cooking, gardening, painting the classroom, camping - it builds self-esteem.

• Reward him with a gift or points towards a special treat, e.g. 'Each time you ring someone to make arrangements you'll get ten points toward the 50 you need for your special outing.'

• Pets (especially dogs) build self-esteem and teach children how to show care and empathy, and develop responsibility; they also provide exercise and allow kids to practise social skills at the park with other dogs and their owners.

• When you see your child displaying constructive assertive skills with a sibling, at camp or at a play rehearsal, remind him to repeat them elsewhere. Remind him that if he uses the behaviour successfully at home or elsewhere, he can duplicate it at school when appropriate, e.g. 'You speak loudly to your brother, so you can speak loudly to the bully next time you need to retort.'

• Use feedback to praise your child. Children need praise like a plant needs water. Children who are regularly praised by their families have better self-esteem. Praise their assertive behaviours to them and to others (like grandparents, siblings), e.g.:

'I'm really impressed that you looked those girls straight in the eye.'

'You smiled at more people today, that's great.'

'I'm pleased you are speaking to more kids.'

'I'm glad you tried a retort, even if it didn't work this time.'

Check that they absorbed the compliment, to ensure it didn'tgo in one ear and out the other. When you praise them for doing a chore, behaving nicely or developing assertive skills, how do you know they've actually heard you? Did they smile and look pleased? Did their face glow? Did they sit or stand a little taller?

Kids appear to automatically switch off when their parents speak, unless it's about a treat. If their behaviour doesn't change, your praise may have fallen on deaf ears, and it won't work. You could repeat yourself until you get the correct response, or ask them in a humorous manner to repeat back to you what they heard you say

Instruct your child how to behave when receiving a compliment, i.e. a genuine smile, a snappy jerk of the head or a generally cheerful,contented demeanour. If you seeyourchild displaying the appropriate behaviour, point this out to him and show him how he did it.

Key points

Children need to build their self-esteem to block bullies. They

do this by giving to themselves and to others.

Children with good self-esteem show it, and attract real

friends.

Children need to use positive and constructive feedback.

Adults need to actively contribute to enhancing a child's

self-esteem.

What to do

• Help yourself feel good by doing nice things for yourself everyday.

• Listen carefully when others say or do nice things for you.

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