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I was not a confident child . As a matter of fact, when I was my oldest daughter’s age I was evaluated for speech therapy because I was very quiet in class. Turns out my speech was fine. It was my confidence that needed work.

Looking back, I can see that my mom wasn’t a very confident woman. I wish she had known just how awesome she was. Confidence was something I had to slowly build over the course of my life, but I knew I had to help my oldest daughter so that she wouldn’t have to work quite as hard as I did.

Hannah is my mini-me; quiet and thoughtful, smart, shy, and very hard on herself. I’ve learned so much about who I am and who I want to be by raising her. Naturally, I don’t want her to have the same hang-ups that held me back. I’ve kept a watchful eye over the years and I’ve done my best to help her build confidence.

Here are four things that have really helped.

1. Enlist Her Teacher’s Help – Sometimes no matter how much we reassure our children, they need to hear it from someone else. I walked into my daughter’s Kindergarten orientation and as soon as the presentation was over I made a bee-line for her teacher.

I told him that Hannah is extremely bright, but very sensitive and hard on herself. She could already read before the start of school and I knew she could be pushed to excel in school, but it would have to come in the form of many gentle nudges. I asked for his help in making her feel okay about making mistakes, and encouraging her to answer questions.

I didn’t raise my hand in class much as a kid, not because I didn’t know the answer, but because I was afraid of being wrong. To his credit, he is an amazing teacher. He pointed out his own mistakes (like the time he accidentally wrote on the smart board with a permanent marker) so the kids would see that even teachers make mistakes. If she cried because she didn’t know the answer on a test, he reassured her it was fine.

At each parent/teacher conference, I made it my mission to find out more than the academic picture of my daughter’s development. I wanted to know how she interacted with the other kids, how her confidence was developing, if she cried at all, how she was overcoming the challenges of new material, and if she asked for help.

By the end of the year, her confidence was really starting to grow and it has continued to grow.  Every year, I always ask the same types of questions at every single parent/teacher conference.

2. Encourage Her in Math and Science – I can’t tell you how many times growing up I heard my mother say she was bad at math. Most of the time she deferred to my step-dad to help me with any and all math homework.

To this day I still think I’m bad at math, but honestly I was always a B student in math. That’s not really bad, but perhaps somewhere along the lines I made the association that too many girls do – that we’re just not good at math and science.

At my last parent-teacher conference with Hannah’s fourth grade teacher, she told me that Hannah is gifted. That’s not news to me. She was always reading a few grade levels ahead in school. What took me by surprise was the subject. She said Hannah’s state test scores in math were well above the district average and that she wanted to put Hannah in a special math group, which meets before school once a week and competes in math competitions. The group is primarily for 5th and 6th graders.

When I asked Hannah if she was interested I told her that she would probably see math problems she never had before and she had to be okay with that. She asked if they would teach her how to solve those problems and when I said yes she jumped at the opportunity.

I’m so glad she’s going to be challenged to excel in an area that many girls aren’t. I just know that when she has children of her own someday she’s not going to utter the phrase, “I’m no good at math.” That brings me to number 3.

3. Mind Your Words About Yourself – Like I said, the words my mother spoke over herself had an effect on me. I’m totally guilty of still saying things like, “I’m not very good at math,” but I still try to help her with her math homework whenever she asks. I know I’ve gotta watch what I say. My kids are always listening even if I think I’m just muttering something to myself.

My mom often said disparaging things about her looks too. I was very self-conscious of my own looks especially as a tween and teen. I’m not blaming it all on my mom, but I unconsciously learned to give a voice to my insecurities. I try really hard not to say bad things about myself or my looks in front of my daughter.

Girls look to their moms to understand their own self-worth. Be kind to yourself and they’ll learn to be kind to themselves too.

4. Encourage Leadership Skills – One of the best things I did was put Hannah in Girl Scouts. She’s gotten to meet with local business owners, our town judge and even our Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther. It’s great for the girls to meet influential women.

This year, they held mock elections to learn more about the election process. It was optional if the girls wanted to run for President and I was so proud that Hannah wanted to. Being in the spotlight was something I would have avoided as a kid.

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Hannah made campaign buttons for her Girl Scout Troop election.

She made campaign buttons and stood up in front of her peers and made a speech about why she would make a good President. My favorite part was when she said she wouldn’t be upset if they didn’t choose her.

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I’m so proud of Hannah and all the girls who went up to the podium to give speeches during her Girl Scout Troop election. The more girls practice leadership skills like public speaking when they’re younger, the less intimidating it will be when they get older.

I didn’t put any pressure on her, heck I didn’t even hear her speech until she delivered it to her troop on Election Day. To my surprise she won. She then had to run one of her troop meetings and pick a project they would work on.

I told her about Operation Christmas Cheer, a card writing project started by my fellow Hudson Valley Parent blogger Roxanne (aka The Whatever Mom) that sends holiday cards to kids who are very ill. She was all for it and that’s what her troop did during the meeting she had to run. I’m so proud of the girls.

It doesn’t have to be Girl Scouts. It could be sports or any activity that encourages your daughter to take a leadership role.

Hannah has already far surpassed me when I was her age. She’s taught me that confidence comes from practice. It’s slow and steady for some girls, but as long as we keep them moving in the right direction, we can help them reach their full potential. We are their moms, and we have more power than we know.

Erin Johnson a.k.a. The No Drama Mama is the author of “So, You’re Broke? 18 Drama-Free Steps To A Richer Life.” She can be found writing for The No Drama Mama and Hudson Valley Parent when she’s not busy caring for her three adorable kiddos. Her work can also be found on The Huffington Post, Money Saving Mom, Mamapedia and Worshipful Living.

Hello readers, as boring as it may be, I’m going to start out by introducing myself to you all…

I’m Brittany and I’m the newest addition to the Hudson Valley Parent family. About 4 months ago, I was hired as the Editorial Assistant. I must say, I really love working here at HVParent.  Our entire staff is great and so much fun to be around.

Since I came on board, I’ve worked a lot with our social media sites. If you’re not already our friend on facebook, I hope you’ll take a moment to join us (shameless plug… I know).

Now for some boring background about me… I’m originally from North Carolina. I moved to New York 6 months ago to be with my boyfriend, Bill.  Bill and I met through my baseball-focused, radio show I used to host called “A Show of Their Own.”  The show is now archived online, but I’ll spare you the shameless plug.

Prior to HVP, I worked as a high school basketball, softball and volleyball coach… which transitioned me to sports-talk radio and now logically to working for a parenting publication! Working for HV Parent is a combination of everything I love: writing, editing, interviewing, videos, photography, social media, even some graphic design! Not to mention, I get to think up crazy ideas for new things to offer our readers!

Now, I’ll admit, I’ve been putting off blogging for a while. I have several blogs of my own, but couldn’t decided on an angle for this new HVParent blog of mine. BUT I finally figured it out.

Since, I made you read this long blog all about me, I guess it’s time for me to unveil my new blog and what exactly it will be about (drum roll please….)

Gym Class Hero will focus on living a healthy lifestyle. I’ll discuss everything from sports, weight loss, activities for the kids, nutrition… anything. I recently lost 120 pounds… yep 120! I’m still 30 pounds away from my goal weight and cannot wait to share my journey with all of you.  I’m a sports nut and have had some great experiences I want to share with (y’all) you all. My goal for this blog is to have something for everyone… mom, dad, kids, grandparents, etc.  I hope you’ll continue reading my musings and comment away!

Thanks for reading,

Brit

My first paying gig was babysitting my neighbors kids and it was my best friend’s first job as well. I think that babysitting is a right of passage for every teenager.  But, you have to make sure you know how to perform the job safely. The Adriance Memorial Library in Poughkeepsie  is offering a Babysitting Workshop for tweens and teens.

Topics will cover responsibilities including basic child care, babysitting safety, developmental needs for different age groups, emergency preparedness,  strategies for difficult situations, and a babysitter’s bag of tricks. Participants should bring  a notebook, pen and a bag lunch.

Pre-registration is required. You can register online or call Adriance Children’s Desk at
845-485-3445, ext.  3320.

Teens often do wacky things in order to express their individuality. This can come in the form of dyed blue hair, changing up their wardrobe, or piercings. However, what happens when these things go against your child’s school dress code. Ariana Iacono is a 14-year-old from North Carolina and has a small stud nose piercing. This piercing which was put in for “religious purposes” has caused her to be suspended from her school. Ariana says she belongs to the Church of Body Modification. You can barely see the piercing in the picture included in this article from the TODAY Show. Is this piercing worth being suspended over?

Meet Kristin. She had her friends over at her house past her curfew, so as punishment, her dad took out an ad in the paper with her photo for 30 hours of free babysitting. Is this way too extreme? Or, do you feel this was a creative way for her parents to teach Kristin a lesson? I think as a teen, the public attention is really the bigger punishment, at least it would be for me. How did your parents punish you when you broke the rules? What methods of punishment do you use with your child or teen?

Does this scenario sound familiar? “Hey honey can you clean up your room later?” “What?” “I said, can you clean up your room later?” “Huh?!” According to a new study it turns out your teen may not be answering you out of rudeness, but because they may not hear you properly. An alarming statistic of one in five teens in the US have lost a little bit of hearing, and the problem has increased substantially in recent years.  Experts are urging teenagers to turn down the volume on their digital music players, suggesting loud music through earbuds may be to blame. I know that I am guilty of cranking up the music too loud at the gym myself. If  you or your teen use earbud headphones make sure the volume is at half and not up fully.

Sharon MacGregor

I am a freelance writer and columnist living in Sulllivan County.  My husband and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary last year and are raising our two man-cubs with both old-fashioned and modern parenting styles.  Another member of our family is our one-year old, yellow Lab, Maddy.  I look forward to sharing a slice of our family life and family related news with the Hudson Valley Parent community!

Although I always noticed the sings on the wall at the pediatrician’s office that say, “Your child is a welcome patient until the age of 22,” of course I never considered the invitation until my own sons grew into their teens.

 

Amid a tangle of HMO rules and regulations when you select a primary care physician for your child and a, “I can’t wait until Monday, but it isn’t a real emergency,” situation with my 15 year old son, I had to seek medical care.  I called the right-now care center that my husband and I have used on occasion to see what the financial penalty would be for not following the rules when the child is not bleeding profusely or suffering from a broken bone and was pleasantly surprised when they asked what insurance we had and then said, “No problem, bring him in.”

 

I stood still with my mouth open before I recovered and said, “Ok, thank you.”

 

We were seen fairly quickly for a Saturday afternoon, blood tests were done and we were on our way to the pharmacy in about two hours.  He’s recovering now, thank you, but it has raised some other questions.

 

  • Should we consider switching to our primary physician for ease and convenience?
  • Should pediatric offices offer a “right-now” kind of clinic for these situations?
  • Perhaps patients under the age of 21 should simply have the right to be seen in “right-now” care clinics, regardless of insurance.

 

Parents make decisions everyday and though the parents of young children say they long for the days when their children are older and “things are easier,” if you ask the parent of a teen or young adult, we will tell you, “The simple times are when they are young, enjoy today.”

 

So kiss your healthy child and while they are well think about where they will have their next physical or receive urgent medical assistance.

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