As for my oldest... 10yo

proserpinaJanuary 26, 2007

He is a really good advocate for his younger brothers, will step in to help them at any point in time. However, when it comes to himself, he shuts down.... to the point, that he didn't tell us that he didn't have any lunch tickets all week!!!

At his last parent-teacher conference, his teacher also made the comment that he needs to be his own promoter and speak up for himself.

While he is very chit-chatty and loves to tell you about everything else, how can I help him speak up when he needs something even as basic as food? I get it that oldest siblings can sometimes be self-sacrificing, but I think it's getting a bit out of hand with this last one...

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After his lunch episode, did he learn from that, do you think ? Did he say he would speak up now ?

Its tricky, this situation. I guess with children, we should keep challenging them, and give them gentle pushes so that they can acquire some self-esteem. I think the fact that he didn't speak up, means that he could have a self-esteem problem.

I am sure a lot of children feel this way from time to time.

Perhaps other posters can suggest ways of encouraging children to speak up when they need things.

Perhaps you could give him more responsibility, where he would need to report back to you about the situation, and would need to tell you about things he needed. Now, let me think...what activity could involve those dilemmas ?

You know, today, my DS was doing some cooking. It was quite a tricky recipe that involved a few complicated multitasking. I got him to make a list of ingrediants that we needed to purchase, then he did the cooking and had to ask me for help about things he couldnt follow.

Perhaps this could be something you could do with your 10 year old.


    Bookmark   January 26, 2007 at 1:37AM
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You know, it was interesting, because when we talked about it, he was his goody-old self. He told me about not having lunch (but didn't tell me about crying, I got that from his teacher), about needing a big snack when he got home. When we talked about what could we have done differently, he said he should tell us before ALL tickets are gone (I instead have it now marked in my Planner when it's getting close, but that's for me to know).

We have a chore chart for the boys, they each have a check list they mark off. He has a few more responsibilities and he helps Dad quite some time... Do you have any ideas about how to promote that sense of responsibility for himself? Oh gosh, now I am going to sleep for real. Thank you and good night. Would love to hear any other thoughts you (or anyone else) may have....

    Bookmark   January 26, 2007 at 2:07AM
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I have a soft spoken, non complaining DD. We built her confidence by focusing on all of her strengths and eventually the weaknesses disappeared. Age appropriate tasks being assigned and completed were celebrated with much adeiu. If we are having a family dinner, she may make a special dessert as her contribution. She feels good about herself and usually will receive huge compliments from the grandparents or whomever is here for dinner. She is still a quiet child, but she will speak up for herself in a school setting, particularly if she has formed a good argument.

That is another way to get your child's confidence up. Talk current events and what's happened during the day each night at the dinner table. Finding out what's up for the next day, the upcoming week, etc.

I am also a strong believer in being the carpool mom. You get alot more information when you are the driver and the kids in the back sort of forget you are in the car. The communication is key.

I am glad the teacher is aware of the situation and she can be an ally in building your son's confidence and responsiblity.

I think the more responsiblity you can give him the better. Also, getting involved in activities in school will help with self confidence. How are his grades? Are there bullies in his class?

I have a 10 yr. old nephew who is very sensitive and quiet. He sounds much like your son. I think boys are much less mature than girls up until high school. I think mom shelters him too much as well as his grandmother, treating him like a much younger child than he is. Mom still does his bath and sets his clothes out. At 10, I think that should be done by the child. JMHO. The other boys in his class are miles ahead in maturity. Eventually, he will be ridiculed and I pray that this resolves before that happens. Boy bullies like nothing more than a boy that cries in school. It is sad, but the fabric of our society and the kids in schools today have no compassion for one another. They would eat one another before helping another with the exception of the few really good kids.

Good luck to you.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2007 at 1:21PM
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I was that kind of a child. I would never make waves....I didn't want my parents to have to go out of their way for me...I was "nice" to a fault. should be YOUR responsibility to KNOW when his lunch ticket has run out....just like you remember to feed him dinner, you should take responsibility for his lunch.
Sorry if this strikes hard...but many many years later, I still remember very well occasions where my mother didn't do some of the basic stuff for me....and I dsidn't complain...I think I thought she would love me less if I brought it up.
YOU need to see that he has lunch money...that should not be the responsibility of a 10 year old!
Linda C

    Bookmark   January 26, 2007 at 11:14PM
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I think the issue here, is how to encourage the child to speak up for himself.

The lunch money issue, can be resolved...but that is a side issue.

I think I was that sort of child too. I remember NOT saying things, like another child was hurting me and I would not speak up. I really dont know why I didnt speak up. Just didnt occur to me to ask for help.

Even as an adult I tend to not ask for help, I suppose I dont want to bother now I have to remember its okay to ask for help.

Maybe this child is just like that...I suppose it is a confidence thing, maybe he just doesnt realize that it is okay to ask for help. Why, I dont know ?

Do you have any ideas about how to promote that sense of responsibility for himself?......Just by giving him tasks to do, I am sure you are doing the right thing.

All the best.


    Bookmark   January 27, 2007 at 4:05AM
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While I agree a 10 year old is young, it should be his responsibility to know if he only has one lunch ticket left. I see many parents babying their kids, and I also see many who have no clue. OP seems to have a clue, so I think her son needs to be responsible for knowing when he is out of lunch tickets. It is a very small responsibility and one that a 3rd grader should easily be able to handle. You have to let a kid grow up and be responsible for somethings gradually giving them more responsibility. Doesn't sound like this child is a latchkey, left at school without a ride. We are talking about lunch money. I think he should be able to handle knowing when he doesn't have any.

We have a ceramic dish in the kitchen that has loose change and ones thrown in there by everyone in the house who comes in from the store. That's where my daughter has taken lunch money from every day she needs it for as long as I can remember and surely back to 3rd grade.

Also, to OP, doesn't the school cafeteria person see your kid doesn't have a lunch. At our elementary and high school for that matter, if the kids doesn't have lunch or money for same, they are provided with one and can pay later. No one associated with caring for your child in a school setting wants to see him go all day without something to eat. Lots of kids forget their lunch money. It shouldn't be a big deal, lunch should be provided to be settled up later.

Just own thoughts.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2007 at 9:18AM
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Gosh, I really didn't want this to be about the lunch tickets. But here goes a little explanation in our defense: the other 2 boys still had tickets and, since we buy them all at the same time, we just assumed that the third also had them. More than putting the "nealy due date" in my palm pilot, I don't know what else we could have done. But anyway, that's neither here nor there; I am sure everyone at one point or another has made a mistake or two. Parents can't and won't be able to always be there for their kids; I learned my lesson (trust me LindaC, it won't EVER happen again) and I think our 10yo did too.

Turns out, I focused on the gigantic picture, and not on a characteristic of our 10YO that I should have thought of right away: he is a perfectionist, and anything below perfection is ebarrassing. Turns out, the little soul lost his tickets, and that's why he didn't say anything and was too embarrassed to tell anyone. He was eating the snacks I would give him and nothing else...

So now we are coming up with ways to have him be less hard on himself and accept that everyone makes mistakes (his parents being the first ones doing their daily MEA CULPAS).

Thank you all for your feedback! I have lots to think about and digest, much appreciated.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2007 at 2:17AM
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I can relate to this. My oldest would go without lunch rather than admit he made a mistake. He will plot and plan until he knows exactly how to do something before he'll try it. He wants to know he'll be successful before he even tries.

He would also be less likely to stand up for himself. As a preschooler, he would let other kids take things from him and just go find something else to play with. If someone passed out treats, he'd let everyone go in front of him to the point of missing out. In the 7-10 age years we signed him up for different team sports, basketball, roller hockey and soccer. I would get so frustrated because he looked like he was waiting his turn for the ball/puck rather than go after it. He just didn't have an aggressive bone in his body. He was actually polite and well-mannered to a fault, he would not stand up for himself.

Now he is 13. He still isn't the most aggressive kid. But he will speak up better. He chose to stick with the roller hockey, and now ice hockey. Which we thought was odd considering it demands aggression. But, he learned it on the rink, he kinda had to! When I realized that his lack of assertion was causing him to not get what he needed, around age 8-9, I tried to put him in situations that required him to speak up. Anytime an occassion would come up when we'd speak for him, we'd make him speak instead. Have a question at a store? He had to ask. Out dinner, order for himself. We tried to notice opportunities for him to speak up, try something new, succeed or fail and fix it- or even realize that it's ok without fixing it.

He is also the oldest, with 3 younger siblings. He is the perfectionist, likes to know what the expectations are so he can meet them. Homework and school projects he'd be in tears trying to make every detail perfect. It's a hard place to be in, b/c you think, great, he's conscientious. But sometimes good enough really is good enough. He didn't even want eraser marks and would start all over on homework! We had to make him let things go once in a while so he could find out it really will be alright.

I don't think it was exactly a lack of self-confidence. It was the perfectionist thing, and being very thorough, wanting it exactly right or not at all. And the fact that he took so much time to think things through thoroughly in his head before he would act or speak, by the time he got it figured out it was just too late to act. He analyzed things just don't need to be analyzed! LOL!

    Bookmark   January 29, 2007 at 6:19PM
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I was also this kind of child! (but you can bet I'm not like that as an adult.) However,I agree with the posters who said 10 is certainly old enough to alert you that his lunch tickets have run out.
Did you ask him why he did this? Maybe he thought he was gonna get in trouble...

    Bookmark   January 29, 2007 at 11:41PM
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Thanks everyone for your feedback. CoolMama, he just said he didn't because he didn't think of telling us... and when he did, the week had gone by and... oh, I don't know. I wanted to let it go at that point because he heard it from his teacher, from the lunch folks, from his father and from me so... I think he got it that it just can't happen again.

Stephanie in GA, I giggled at your post, thank you! All the feedback I've gotten has really gotten me thinking. I also just read a piece written by Don Bosco; he writes about his students, but it moves into parenting... a beautiful exhortation that really has me thinking about how us adults treat children.

Popi and Labmoma, thanks again!

    Bookmark   January 31, 2007 at 12:34AM
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Just one more thing about lunch money....(sorry!) Australia, where I live, the children take their own lunch to school, this seems a lot easier than your lunch deals !

Stephanie, thats interesting the perfectionist angle. I enjoyed reading your post.

Children sure are complicated, and we are doing the best we can, aren't we ?

Pat on the back for all of us.


    Bookmark   January 31, 2007 at 2:23AM
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They are complicated! Adults are complicated, too, but at some point we sort of figure ourselves out, which make it easier on others in our lives. But kids, the don't have themselves figured out yet.

Mine are so different from each other, with some overlaps of traits. My oldest wants to know where "the line" is so he doesn't cross it. #2 wants to know where the line is so he can immediately cross it just to see what happens. #3, only girl, tries to believe the line applies to others but not to her! Gasp! And #4 thinks the line is negotiable: one cookie? How about one and half? Always wants to make a deal.

So you just cannot treat them all the same, they respond differently to the same situation or parenting approach. There are times I'm at a loss, and thankful for DH, especially with #1, because I just don't always see how his mind works. But DH can give him the same message in a different way and it clicks with him.

And we have to let them be who they are, and help them learn how to succeed with the strengths they have, not the ones we want them to have. They like to hear it, too. Mine often ask me "What am I good at?" And they don't mean "cartwheels." They want to know what I think their strengths are. It surprises me when they ask those sorts of questions, but I know I have to give really good answers. The whole world is waiting to tell them what they're bad at, they need to hear from us what they're good at.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2007 at 9:30AM
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Amen to all of that sister!

I always joked about the educational system in Italy (where I am orginally from), commenting on how Darwinian it is because only the fittest survive (i.e. only the people that are able to survive all the blows you get from teachers and a general hopelessness when it comes to change). I think this country (the U.S. that is) is great in that respect...

If we've had a particularly rough day, at dinner we'll go around the table and picking one person at a time, we'll say something we thing they are good at, something we love, or even just say something nice they did to/for us.

Virtual pat on your back too Popi!

    Bookmark   February 1, 2007 at 1:06AM
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I heard a talk, today, and a point that stuck in my mind was, that we are not too good at allowing people to fail. At school, we all strive to be the best, that is where the glory is.

In our lives we make mistakes and we feel terrible about this.

Perhaps the little boy, in the OP, is afraid of failure. Perhaps in his life this is a bad thing, when really if we are all to grow we need to learn lessons from our failures.

We often get cranky with children when the make mistakes, drop the glass of milk all over the kitchen floor, I used to be that person who did get cranky about that. But I changed, and now I think who cares, its an opportunity to learn the best way to clean up milk from the floor.

Do I get another pat on the back ? LOL


    Bookmark   February 1, 2007 at 9:26PM
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Yeah, Popi, you do. I don't know about "accepting" failure. Gotta be a bit careful not to make it too appealing I guess. But I do believe that the child (or adult for that matter) who has made a mistake and messed up is the one who needs love. Not approval, mind. But love. Acceptance on a very, very basic, personal level. Even though you blew it, I still love you. I may not be crazy about what you did, but I still love you.

I tried so hard to get that across to my children. It was my number one priority - totally out of proportion, I'm sure, because of how I was raised and all kinds of other input. But I just wanted them to know that come whatever they would be loved. And so far I sure can't complain. Both of my children are lovely people who work hard (incredibly hard sometimes) and show true concern and care for others. I really can't complain about them at all. I don't know how I managed to be so fortunate as to have two such amazing people for children.

As for this little seems to me there are a couple of reasons he might not speak up for himself: he could be afraid of failure. In his mind anything less than perfection may be considered failure. I'd try hard to impress upon him that there will be lots of times when he tries hard but doesn't ace the situation. It's still a win. If he can only do what he knows he can do perfectly he is limiting himself horribly. He could also be afraid of punishment. I don't mean a beating...just a sense of letting his parents (or other significant people) down. That can be an awful burden on anyone. It would be so freeing for him to learn that the other people in his life will survive his imperfection. As an eldest child he may have an overgrown sense of leadership - the feeling that HE has to be best. That can challenge him but it can also inhibit his ability to risk failure and try new things.

With a first child I think it is important to analyze what you as parents really expect. I think it is too easy to expect that first child to carry the banner, to be perfect. And the child will pick that up. My own boy was too wise - he WAS excellent in school and extra activities but he had a sense of adventure and mischief that would not be denied. He was a real firecracker and he had his narrow escapes and such. And I'm so glad he was that way. Oh. It put more than a few gray hairs on this head but it kept us all down with our feet on the ground. I think one reason he was able to do that was because he knew...really knew...that I'd still love him. No matter what.

Proserpina, I'm sure you feel that way about your little boy. I have no doubt that your love for him is just as strong as mine was for my boy. How can you NOT? But getting it across to them...that's the trick. He's 10. I think I'd sit him down and tell him. Just tell him. He's got a lot of growing up to do and it would be a lot easier if he knew he had your unconditional love behind him. It's perfectly obvious to you but it may not be to him.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2007 at 11:09PM
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