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The Pregnancy Test Hack that May be giving TTC women false hope

pregnancy-test

So…the new thing in women’s online parenting and pregnancy forums is a practice called pregnancy test “tweaking”.

It entails a woman who is trying to conceive posting an image among other members of the online or bulletin board community of a recent pregnancy test that doesn’t’ definitively indicate she is pregnant. There is usually a very faint second line or indicator that could be perceived to be indication that she is pregnant.

Afterwards, members of the community use digital imaging tools to enhance the photo so they can decipher better if there is a second line.

The “tweaking” process give women false hope, some critics say. They worry it could be a damaging practice that toys with the emotions of  women who are struggling to conceive.

Some tweakers defend the practice.

“We can NEVER bring something out that IS NOT ALREADY THERE,” says Brandy Linex, who says she tweaks photos on BabyCenter.com  “We do not create positive tests out of negative ones. It’s either already positive or it isn’t and we are VERY up front and honest about that.

There is a common explanation for the faint line that is seen after the tweaking: It could be residual indication of an early miscarriage.

Doctors warn that some tweaked photos may actually reveal a chemical pregnancy, which often times go undetected and women recognize them only as a late menstrual period.

Only a follow up test at a doctor’s office, usually a blood one, can confirm the home-based test.

The tweaking process is just an exercise that lasts only until the obvious is confirmed a few days or weeks later when there is either positive confirmation of an active pregnancy or not.

What are your thoughts about “tweaking”?

h/t Dr. Drew at HLN

20 Fun Low-Budget Things to Do with The Kids This Summer

 

summer low budget

If you’re like me and other parents, we are constantly looking for things to do during the Summer with the children. Going out can be costly however. If you don’t pack snacks and lunch, you can end up spending $50-$100 per outing. That’s why we have to plan our Summer appropriately and hunt for super low cost things we can do before or after eating at home or that are Free so we only have to pay for food or snacks while out.

Here are 20 ideas for outdoor activities that are fun to do and/or are low cost or no cost:

1. Camp out in the backyard

2. Go to  your local state park

3. Visit a park that has a creek and look for frogs, tadpoles, minnows and other creek life. My middle kid LOVES animals and marine life.  It’s his fave past time and summer is THE best time at the creek.

4. If you have a fishing rod, head out to a local spot and go fishing on a dock or at the shore.

5. Go bowling. There are a lot of Summer free bowling opps.

6. Go Roller skating. Many rinks have half off or special nights for families where it cost less.

7. Start a windowsill garden. You can make a D.I.Y. container or box for the sill.

8. Play soccer with the family. My family has evening soccer matches where we team up and play against each other. It’s great exercise and it helps increase the kids’ skill for rec and school soccer in the fall.

9. Go to the library. Many libraries have Summer Reading programs and ongoing special events like live animal shows, magic shows and weekly reading hours for various age groups. For us, it’s a great way to get the kids away from the TV and video games and reading.

10. Have an outdoor scavenger Hunt! Fortunately, we live in a town with a creek and several parks. I’ve printed out outdoor scavenger hunt lists online and we’ve headed outdoors for fun.

11. Get the other kids in the neighborhood together for a group match and if possible, schedule it for the same day and time each week. My husband was a soccer coach a few times and has coached many kids in the town and has their numbers still and has been wanting to organize an impromptu drop in clinic.

12. Catch fireflies outside and put them in a mason jar and watch them glow, then set them free.

13. See a puppet show or kids play. We are lucky to live near the Kennedy Center which has free or very low cost productions and performances  all year. If you live near a school with a theater department, check out their schedules to see if they have performances in the summer and student rates.

14. Visit the local animal shelter. My middle kid who loves animals enjoy our monthly visits to the animal shelter so he can see the dogs he hopes to one day get.

15. Go swimming. Local public pools have low fares and if you have friends who live in apartment or housing complexes with a pool, or who have their own personal backyard pools, schedule weekly visits. We do this and it saves us fun and keeps our Summer fun and cool.

16. Drive to a local beach for the day for a day trip.

17. Visit museums. We live in DC so the Smithsonian museums are free, there  are plenty of them and the exhibits change routinely. Other areas have discount days as well.

18. Catch a local outdoor movie night. Many locales have movie on the lawns for free events all summer long.

19. Go to the County Fair. Throughout the summer, various counties locally have fairs. We’ve gone every year and have a blast!

20. Visit a local farm. Pet the animals. Buy some local produce which is better for your and support your local farmer and community at the same time.

Hope these ideas help make the rest of your Summer a fun one! Enjoy!

Eco-Friday REVIEW: Aetrex sandals offer style and comfort for moms-to-be

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It’s been awhile since we’ve had an Eco-Friday post sharing our latest finds, news and information about living an eco-friendly, holistic and natural lifestyle.

Today, I would like to share my experience testing out one of Aetrex‘s family of comfy, orthopedic friendly yet stylish athletic shoes,  sandals, thongs, slippers and other feet support products for men, women, children and families.

Moms-to-be get swollen feet,  and often times, they go up a shoe size. Another side-effect of pregnancy for many women is achy joints and muscles having to balance their new re-distribution of weight so they are grounded and balanced.

Having comfortable shoes are a MUST! This brand’s shoes indeed could help out in that department.

The pair I checked out, The Emily Rose Flip Flop (complimentary) retails for $99.95 and felt like butter on my feet.

I got them in the mail after a couple of marathon days at the gym, running on the treadmill. My heels needed a break! So these puppies were perfect. They are light and offer plenty of give. I literally felt like I was walking on air wearing them.

Since 1946, the company has specialized in comfort and wellness footwear. The makers seemingly have perfected the art and skill of manufacturing a quality comfort shoe.

The Emily thong sandal is a classic warm weather shoe and it is fully adjustable for the ultimate fit.

Highly recommend and the brand sells a variety of styles as well for different tastes and style palates. Check them out and find a store near you that sells them HERE!

Ashlee Simpson gets fab PUSH Present; 8  Ideas for New Moms Who Have Everything

At a recent event celebrating his new album, singer-songwriter and Hunger Games star Evan Ross surprise gifted his wife Ashlee Simpson a plush PUSH present as she prepares to give birth to their first child together.

A source to PEOPLE magazine who attended the celebration held Tuesday at the Kia Beach House in Malibu, California said Ross brought out the vintage limited edition 2102 Chanel Green Graffiti Body Bag to the deck and presented it to his wife who was elated to receive it.

Nice! It’s quirky, eclectic, unique and perfect for the Bohemian flower child that Simpson-Ross is!

It can be tough for guys like Evan to shop for the posh mom (an expectant or new) who has everything. So for those dads-to-be out there one wondering what to give that woman who has everything, here are some ultimate gift suggestions:

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1. Any mom would be happy to receive a Tiffany blue box, especially if in it there is a Tiffany & Co. Bezzet Yellow Diamond Ring in platinum with a yellow diamond in an 18k gold bezel setting. Cushioned in modified fancy intense yellow diamond, carat total weight 1.57 Get it at Tiffany’s for a mere $27,100.
2. If she is a bag freak and doesn’t already have one, you can get her the Hermes Matte Crocodile Birkin Bag which costs $120,000.  Named after after British singer/actress Jane Birkin. The clasp of this tote, which is actually made out of a crocodile, features 10 carats of white diamonds. Less expensive bags are available starting at $5,000. Good luck finding one. Last I heard, there is a wait list. But Jet Set Socialite site that had the list has since gone off line.


3. If  that affluent new mom in your life loves sweet spells, you can get her one of the world’s most expensive bottle of perfume, Clive Christian No. 1 which sells for $2,150 for 2 ounces. The perfume is an extravagant combination of Indian jasmine, mandarin and sandalwood. Its bottle is handmade from lead crystal, while the neck is 24-karat gold-plated sterling silver, set with a solitaire. Wow!
4. If that spoiled rich new mom has a sweet tooth, she may appreciate getting a dark chocolate truffle from Knipschildt for $250. It sells for $2600 a pound. With candy that rich, you have to cherish every calorie.

5. My favorite  gift is anything spa related. If your mom has time on her schedule, book her a spa trip to the Hotel Victor in South Beach (which was bought out by the Hyatt) It offers guests of its penthouse suite the opportunity to lounge in a tub filled with 1,000 liters of pure Evian water, fuchsia, and orange Gerber daisies. Serena Williams was the first to try out the $5,000 bath, which is given in a 350-gallon infinity tub. You can also snack on smoked salmon lollipops, foie gras and chocolate as you bathe.

6. A monogrammed robe. For the first weeks after the baby is born, a new mom will be restless, sleepless, and anxious trying to navigate her new role, nurse, recover and heal from the pains of labor and delivery and entertaining guests. It can be overwhelming. Nothing can make a new mom feel comfortable and comforted than being enveloped in a nice plush robe, especially during cold and crisp Fall or Winter nights. Having it monogrammed adds the nice extra special touch. For those in warmer climates, a pretty frilly robe in pastels, paisley or other feminine design can help a new mom feel sensual during a time when she may be dealing with bloating and other pregnancy side effects. Brookstone sells a nice one starting at  $59.95.
 
 
7. Plush Slippers Many new moms experience water retention in their feet and legs during and immediately after giving birth. C-Section moms have it even worse because surgery creates even more water build up. As such, many moms quickly become to realize that they may not be able to fit into their old shoes and won’t for a while. A great warm and comfy pair of slippers would be an ideal for any new mom, for lounging around the home or just for slipping into after a day out and about on feet that are still recovering from childbirth.  makes a comfy shearling slipper that retails for $75.

8. Anything from Tiffany’s – The sight of that little blue box can put a glimmer in any woman’s eye. For a new mom whose fingers may be swollen from retaining water, she may be upset and frustrated that she can no longer fit her wedding or engagement ring. Rather than put it away, wouldn’t it be a wonderful surprise to present her with a lovely chain to hang the rings on and wear around her neck so she can keep the symbol of your love and fidelity by her heart? Yes. Yes indeed. And as a self-proclaimed connoisseur of all things Tiffany’s related, believe me, that you are sure to find a necklace in a variety of budgets at Tiffany’s.

An Elsa Peretti Pendant Chain  sells for $185.00 and can fit a ring easily along with the alphabet pendant bearing either the mom’s or new baby’s initial.

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How to Do a Pregnancy Progression or Baby’s First Year Board (Examples)

 

 

So pregnancy progression boards are a great new trendy way to track each month of your pregnancy. After baby is born, some new moms use the same concept to chronicle each month of a baby’s development in a photo graphic format.

BUY THESE CHALKBOARD STICKERS (CLICK IMAGE BELOW)

Select from among many different sample boards that other bloggers have done and shared among their readers. We found the above title image at Morgans2Day blog. You can wear the same outfit and/or stand in front of the same chalkboard or framed white board each month. You can track it by weeks or by months. The final image is usually you holding your newborn.

You can add additional details to the board like a description of how large the baby is compared to random objects like a peach, cantaloupe, prune etc. Or what new organ or capability has developed in the baby in utero.

CLICK IMAGE BELOW TO SEARCH A COLLECTION OF STICKERS ON ETSY

They are fun and can be shared with family and friends and kept as a keepsake for later to share with your child as she grows.

If you are newly pregnant, trying to conceive or just had a baby, here are a few sample boards we spotted in Pinterest for you to consider:

 

TO PURCHASE THIS EDITABLE BABY PROGRESS BOARD CLICK THE IMAGE BELOW

ihearts blogspot

 

SHOP THE COLLECTION OF BABY PROGRESS STICKERS ON ETSY. CLICK IMAGE BELOW!

A South African man is the First Penile implant patient to father a child

 

 

The world’s second successful penile implant patient is going to be a dad, according to BBC News.

A 21-year old South African man, who had his penis removed after a botched tribal circumcision ritual, and his girlfriend are expecting their first child.

The young man, whose identity has been withheld for ethical reasons, received his new penis only this past December 2014 after a 9-hour operation.

Dr. Andre van der Merwe, the surgeon who performed the procedure, told BBC News that he was “very pleased” upon learning of the pregnancy.

The patient’s girlfriend is 4 months along. 

Per BBC:

The news of this man’s impending fatherhood is especially promising, as South Africa has some of the greatest need for penis transplants in the world, according to BBC News. Young boys in the Xhosa tribe in South Africa, for example, undergo a ritual circumcision as young as age 12. 

During this journey to manhood, boys are often isolated in mountains and forced to recover in a way that is both painful and dangerous; the penis is wrapped in strips of goat skin and the boys are allowed no food or water. The risk of infection is high in these conditions and by the time many of them seek medical help, it’s too late to save the member.

Now, at least there’s hope for the most unfortunate of these young men — and for men facing similar circumstances around the world.

According to SkyNews, it is estimated that 250 penis amputations occur in Africa every year as a result of mutilated circumcisions, which up until were often left untreated. Dr. Van der Merwe says this new transplant project can now be seen as a source of hope for many young men who are lining up to be next.

The first successful transplant was performed in 2006 on a man in China who asked that it be removed after he and his wife reports having psychological problems with it. 

Apparently, according to reports, it didn’t function well because the surgeons put it in a warming lamp after the operation. 

4 New Mom Support Options

 

postpartum doula

Today, new moms often don’t have extended family living close enough to come and stay with them after giving birth, and even when family is close, busy schedules can get in the way of friends and family providing consistent help for more than just a few days. Thankfully there are many short-term care options for new moms and dads.

Here’s a list of 4 ways new parents can get the help and support they need:

1. Newborn Care Specialist For years, Baby Nurses were the caregiving professionals that helped affluent mothers care for their infants from the day they returned home from the hospital. Baby Nurses often stayed until the baby was one to three months old and a full charge nanny was hired. These caregivers were trained and registered nurses, often retired from jobs in hospital neonatal units. Over the last decade, Newborn Care Specialists have stepped up and filled many of these positions and made in-home newborn care more accessible and affordable to new moms.

Newborn Care Specialists have gone through an in-depth training program and have extensive experience working with newborns and infants. They often have experience with premature babies and multiples as well. Their job is to provide hands-on care to the baby, including things like feeding, diapering, bathing, dressing and cuddling the baby. They also help parents establish routines and handle any special needs the baby may have.

Many Newborn Care Specialists have their own businesses and book directly with family clients. They are often booked months in advance and rely on word of mouth to find moms to be who are in need. Other Newborn Care Specialists work through traditional nanny placement agencies. The agency is responsible for fully screening the caregiver, which includes confirming their education and experience and making sure they have exceptional references.

2. Postpartum Doula This caregiver provides support and care for the new mother and the family for the first three to six weeks after the birth. Unlike a Newborn Care Specialist, a postpartum doula isn’t focused on the hands-on care of the baby. She helps with baby care, but her focus is helping the mother. This includes things like offering tips and techniques for successful breast feeding, sterilizing and preparing bottles, doing light housekeeping, simple meal preparation, helping the siblings adjust to the new baby, setting up routines, and being a listening ear to the new mom. The Postpartum Doula is often described as a stand in beloved auntie.

3. Night Nanny Sometimes the biggest need of a new mom (and dad!) is a good night’s sleep. A night nanny is a caregiver with some training and extensive experience with infants. She works the overnight shift and provides hands-on care to the baby from evening to morning. Her duties might include the night time bath, infant massage, rocking the baby to sleep, and night time feedings and diaper changes. A night nanny often comes on board once the mom goes back to work and needs to get uninterrupted sleep. She can stay for just a week or two or until the baby gets on a regular sleep schedule and begins to sleep through the night.

Night nannies can be hired through a traditional nanny placement agency or an online nanny job site. If a parent hires on her own, it’s essential to make sure the nanny has relevant and current infant experience and training in infant safety, infant CPR and first aid.

4. Temporary Nanny Often a new mom has plenty of help when she first comes home with the baby and doesn’t need help caring for the baby during maternity leave. However, when she’s ready to go back to work there it’s not unusual to find that there isn’t an opening in the family or day care facility she’s interested in or it will be another few months until her baby is old enough to attend. In those cases, a traditional nanny doesn’t work. However, a short-term nanny is the perfect bridge between in home care and group care.

Most nanny agencies offer temporary and back-up care placements. Also, online job sites offer a wide variety of potential candidates. Since it’s a temporary position, nannies that wouldn’t be a great long term match might be the perfect short-term match. Although the nanny is only going to be caring for the baby for a short time, parents should screen the nanny the same way they’d screen for a long term position.

Consider these options. They could be a God-send and save you some sanity and a few winks of shut-eye.

Content compliments our partners at NewbornCare.com photo compliments:Little Apple Doulas

4 Things Modern Parents should Stop Doing Now

parents ignoring kid

A little while ago, I bumped into a LifeHack column discussing 15 things or so that children wish their parents would do more of.  I’ve searched online but can’t seem to find that post anywhere so I’ve put together my own version based on some of the few items on the list that I remember  and that stuck out in my head and resonated with me as a modern, tech-savvy and addicted parent.

Here, remixed, are Four things that modern parents need to stop doing now in order to show their children complete love and attention:

Stay glued to your smartphone – We adults (this one included) cannot stay off of our smartphones and tablets. We stay glued to them even while picking up the kids from school, greeting them at the bus stop, making them dinner  and pretty much engaging in any aspect of life.  A recent University of Washington  study published this year found that 44% of parents struggle to turn off their phone at the playground.  Make a pledge to yourself now if you are one of those iPhone or Droid phone addicts.  Put away the phone at least for the first 30 minutes to hour when the children get home from school. Even if someone calls (even the office) let it go to voicemail. Better yet turn off the ringer also so you don’t even get tempted. Heck, the notifications alone can get us all excited so just go ahead and turn it all the way off. Cut off all temptations.

Use your Smartphone or Watch TV during mealtimes. 

During mealtimes is when parents should be engaging their children and asking about their day, but many struggle. I know I do as well. A Boston University study observing 55 different groups of parents and young children eating at fast food restaurants uncovered that 45 of the parents used a mobile device during the meal, and many were more absorbed in the device than in the kids. Most of the caregivers pulled out a mobile device right away, the chief researcher noted, adding “they looked at it, scrolled on it and typed for most of the meal, only putting it down intermittently.” Dinner and other mealtimes should be used to share each other’s company (and this goes for spouses, friends or whomever else you’re having a meal with).  A smartphone free meal allows the parent can make sure her kid isn’t eating too quickly and over stuffing himself.  Also, for older kids, mealtimes are when parents can find out about what they’re doing in school or looking forward to in the week or weekend. It’s hard enough getting a teen to open up so while forced to eat dinner together, take the opportunity to get all up in their business. It’s your job. Try this trick to make it work: have everyone put the phones in the middle of the table face down during dinner as a reminder that they are off limits.

Not Listen to their kids’ stories. I am quite guilty of just nodding along and saying ‘mmmhmmm’ in response to an ongoing tale one of my kids is telling me. I get so engrossed in my phone or whatever I am working on at the time that I can barely take even a slight breather to listen to a story. That’s no bueno. They will remember these moments as they grow up and even in adulthood. We have to show attentiveness and this goes for when our child wants to show us some artwork they did at school or at camp, read something interesting she found in a nature book or just share something that happened at school. Try to be mindful and conscious of the next time you find yourself ignoring your kid while she is talking to you. Then stop. Pause and try to listen.

Don’t spend quality downtime with their child. It’s easy to shoo a child who proclaims he is bored away and direct them to read a book, go outside or go play with a sibling.  A different approach that would nurture your parent child bond would be to actually play with them. My family has a stack of board games and medium sized puzzles. It could take up to an hour or more of time, but honestly, we spend more time than that watching a Game of Thrones marathon or the last few Housewives show we’ve missed. The kid we brought into the world should be able to compete with strangers on the TV. Right? Overscheduled children also complain about having downtime to just chill and hang with their parents.  Your together time shouldn’t be limited to you chauffeuring your children from activity to activity and sport-to-sport. Get in the water with them while at the pool in the Summer. Play some hoops at the court. Laugh, Live, Connect.

There we have our challenge. Let’s try to make some small changes so we don’t contribute to our children’s future therapy session bills. (smile)

 

Court: French Surrogate Children Finally Granted Birth Certificates and Civil Status

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France’s highest court has granted legal recognition to surrogate children, in a major turnaround that will make their daily lives easier and could lead to greater acceptance of new forms of families.

The Cour de cassation ruled Friday that, while surrogacy will remain banned in France, children born abroad through this practice will now be legally tied to their parents and will be granted birth certificates and immediate means to prove their French citizenship.

“This means no less than the recognition of our child, of these children’s French citizenship and of the rights that go with it,” said Dominique Boren, 51, father of a 4-year-old boy born in Russia from a surrogate mother, with his husband beside him.

Surrogacy can involve a woman carrying an embryo created by in vitro fertilization using another woman’s egg. In some cases the surrogate mother is also the genetic mother of the child. The procedures are used by heterosexual couples unable to conceive, gay couples, as well as single parents.

Until now, surrogate children were deprived of any legal connection to their parents, or any civil status in France. They were considered as children born from unknown legal parents, since their foreign birth certificates weren’t recognized. One lawyer has described them as “ghosts of the republic.”

Unlike other children born abroad to a French parent, these children couldn’t get automatic ID cards or passports, or register for state health care or other services.

This exposed them to frequent problems, because many basic tasks are impossible in France without an ID or authorization from a legal parent.

In addition to potential psychological troubles due to their incomplete identities, the children were also deprived of eventual inheritance, and faced major imbroglios in case of a divorce or the death of one parent.

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7 Ways to Build Self-Esteem in Your Child

bellyitch rewind

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Your child’s self-esteem is an important part of his self-image. It helps him feel he’s worthwhile just as he is and helps him feel good about his choices and decisions. A healthy self esteem doesn’t just happen overnight. It’s something that is nurtured and grown throughout a lifetime, and something that the important people in his life have a chance to help cultivate. Here are some tips for boosting your child’s self-esteem.

1. Give your child choices throughout the day. A big part of healthy self-esteem is feeling capable. Offering your child choices about what outfit to wear, what to have for a snack or for lunch, or if he should pick up the play room before or after going to the park will give your child practice making good choices. When offering young children choices, the key is being comfortable with whatever the child chooses. The goal is to help him think about both sides and make a decision that he feels will best satisfy his needs.

2. Avoid generic praise. Parents want kids to feel good about the things they do and to encourage them to repeat the types of behavior they value. So parents often say things like “Great job!” after everything from finishing vegetables at dinner to putting socks on in the morning to going down the slide at the park. While generic congratulations feel good to a child for a short time, after too many times it becomes meaningless. In fact, congratulating a child for things that don’t require real effort can make a child lose trust in the parent’s honesty.

3. Use specific praise generously. It’s helpful to a child’s self-esteem to hear from parents and other adults about their accomplishments, both big and small. Instead of using generic praise, let your child know how much you admire and appreciate his specific behavior. Phrases like “I appreciate your help in picking up the play room this afternoon. It means we have more time at the park!” or “Eating your vegetables will help your body grow strong and healthy. I love your willingness to try new things.” or “I’m so proud of how you climbed to the top of the tower. That took strong arms and great balance!” will help your child feel good about his abilities and choices.

4. Avoid negative labels. Most of the way we communicate with others is based in lifelong habits. Unfortunately some unhealthy habits may find their way into your parenting or caregiving vocabulary. Labeling a child as being mean, lazy, uncoordinated or hyperactive, or calling him a whiner, liar or babyish can negatively affect his self-esteem. Children are sensitive to what the people they love think about them and words can have a huge effect. Choose your words carefully and talk about challenging behaviors or traits in positive terms.

5. Become a great listener. Giving your child your full attention and truly listening to what he is saying and how he feels is an immediate self-esteem booster. When you turn off your phone, the TV and the computer and fully engage with your child it shows him that you really care about him and that you’re interested in what he has to say. That kind of undivided attention is rarer than it should be these days and will make your child feel valued and loved.

6. Model healthy self-esteem. Your child looks to you for clues about how to think, act and feel. Make sure you’re sending the right message. Invest in developing your own healthy self-esteem and you’ll be on your way to helping your child develop it too. Have a positive body image, be confident about your abilities, and don’t let petty criticisms from the outside world make you feel bad about yourself and your choices. If you struggle with esteem issues, talk about them with your child in an age appropriate way and show him the steps you’re taking to develop a healthy self-esteem. Showing your child that you’re not perfect, but that you’re working towards being better, gives him the freedom to accept his flaws too.

7. Teach problem solving skills. Teaching your child how to objectively assess a situation, brainstorm solutions, and put a plan into action is a proactive way of building self-esteem. Children who feel able to handle challenging situations, who recognize that when they get knocked down they can get right back up and try again, and who are confident that every problem has a solution have a strong sense of self-esteem.