How do I help my step-daughter with her self esteem?

Alison - posted on 01/04/2014 ( 3 moms have responded )

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I have two stepdaughters (aged 6 and 8) who stay with us every weekend and during school holidays. We do not have any other children as of yet.
It has recently come to our attention that the older girl is having confidence issues and suffers from anxiety in school. She has fallen behind in class despite the fact that she is a very bright girl and misses a lot of days and her teachers are worried that it will cause her problems for the rest of her life if it is not dealt with soon. Her mother has refused to try any suggestions put forth by her teachers, a social worker and child psychiatrist. (I don't mean to bad mouth, her mother has her own problems and just does not grasp the severity of the situation.)
Other than helping her with her homework at the weekends, what else can I do for her? I have suffered from low self esteem and anxiety for most of my life and the thought of this beautiful little girl emotionally and psychologically suffering like that really hurts.
I have a very good relationship with both girls and have been a big part of their life since the youngest was about 8 months old.
Their father is great with them and they hate having to leave him which upsets him too.
Is there anybody else out there that has been in a similar situation or has any advise?

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[deleted account]

can you find out what the anxiety is about? It might be easier to tackle once you have a cause. I had problems with school , I have social anxiety so i was terrified to talk in class during discussions or to answer questions. Going to school was also hard because I had to leave my comfort zone to go there.

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[deleted account]

look into social anxiety tips. I had friends and socialized fine with them fine but talking to large groups or being put on the spot is still very hard.
Social anxiety is a lot of forcing yourself to do something. Like small goals that show nothing bad will come from talking around people. Someone with this anxiety will remember the one time they screwed up and forget the million times they did the same thing right.

Alison - posted on 01/04/2014

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Her anxiety is mostly when she is asked a question or has to read in class. She will sit there hugging herself and rocking and won't say anything. The school think it is a result of her lack of confidence. As far as we can tell she has no problems with socializing with other children but she is more comfortable in the company of adults.
We have talked about trying to get her involved in something on the weekends but we are a low income family and at the moment we just can't stretch to it. (We are both trainees, we won't see a salary jump for another couple of years).
We have noticed the anxiety at home as well when she is asked something that might be difficult or makes her uncomfortable to answer.

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