Eight-Year Touchpoint: Being good at something

Joshua Sparrow, Child Psychiatrist, explains how to help your child build a sense of mastery and success.
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Eight-Year Touchpoint: Being good at something

One of the things that's really important for children between the ages of 7 and 9, or for 8-year-olds certainly, is getting really good at something or a couple of things. And it's not too early to start. Now I hesitate to even say this, because often people misunderstand, that this about building the child's CV or resume all ready to get them ready for application to an Ivy League school, but that's not what I am talking about. It';s about the child's feeling of mastery and success. That I'm good at something. Not for my future, not for my parents, not for anybody else, but for me. Now some children have natural talents that are really obvious to everybody and it's pretty clear what needs to happen to help those develop. And for other children they may be, you know, pretty good at lots of things, but struggle with others. And they may need extra help getting help focused on what it will take to develop the talents that they do have. Again, not in the sense of success in their parents' eyes, or for their future, but so they feel like I'm good at something. There is something that I do that makes me feel good about myself. Now there's a whole area to look at when you are thinking about how to help your child develop this sense of being good at something. And it may not be the kind of thing you usually think about. It may not be sports, or music, or school or theater. It may be about patience, or kindness or compassion, or empathy, about the capacity to share and care, to care of somebody else. These things are at least as important for being successful at life and when you are not quite sure where your child's strength is, pay attention to those kinds of strengths. And help your child recognize those are really important. and those are really important to feel good about and to develop.

Joshua Sparrow, Child Psychiatrist, explains how to help your child build a sense of mastery and success.


Expert Bio

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Joshua Sparrow, MD

Child Psychiatrist & Author brazeltontouchpoints.org

A child psychiatrist, Dr. Sparrow’s care in the 1990s for children hospitalized for severe psychiatric disturbances, often associated with physical and sexual abuse, and for developmental delays aggravated by social and economic deprivation, prompted his interest in community-based prevention and health promotion. At the Brazelton Touchpoints Center, his work focuses on cultural adaptations of family support programs, organizational professional development, and aligning systems of care with community strengths and priorities, and has included collaborative consultation with the Harlem Children's Zone and American Indian Early Head Start Programs, among many others. He has lectured extensively nationally and internationally on related topics and has consulted on media programming for children and parents, including PBS’s Frontlines and Discovery Kids. Co-author with Dr. T. Berry Brazelton of 8 books and the weekly New York Times Syndicated column, “Families Today,” Dr. Sparrow has also served as a contributing editor to Scholastic Services’ Parent and Child magazine. In 2006, he revised with Dr. Brazelton Touchpoints: Birth to Three, 2nd Edition and in 2010, co-edited Nurturing Children and Families: Building on the Legacy of T. B. Brazelton, a textbook on the ongoing generativeness of Brazelton’s seminal research in a wide range of fields. Dr. Sparrow has authored numerous other scholarly works, teaches and lectures nationally and internationally, and is frequently called upon for his expertise by national and international media. Prior to attending medical school, Dr. Sparrow worked for several years as a preschool teacher and journalist in New York City.

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