Among school-age children, a common self-perception of concern and which the literature examines frequently is that of competence. Like adults, children encounter tasks and situations which require or challenge the skills and competencies. If a child feels unequal to the task or situation at hand, their perception of their competence will be low (Ekornås, Lundervold, Tjus, & Heimann, 2010). Competence related to motor skills is of particular concern (Ekornås et al., 2010), so strategies which focus on improving a child’s motor skills is one way of mitigating negative self-perception. In a child who has motor skill issues as a result of disease or disorder, the parents should learn to help their child understand these limitations and that it does not affect the child’s worth. Teaching parents about using positive reinforcement for competencies they do have can help the child understand their strengths. In terms of behaviors, unfortunately cheating in academic settings is a negative behavior which has been identified as a potential indicator for anti-social behaviors (Callender, 2010). Helping parents understand the necessity of consistent responses to rule-breaking and the correction of behavior in such a way to help the child understand the consequences of their actions that helps the child develop appropriate self-regulatory and control impulsivity are important. A mental health issue that school-age children face is anxiety (Ekornås et al., 2010). Teaching children (and their parents) coping techniques to combat anxiety is a good strategy – helping them reflect on their feelings and communicate about them can take some their fear away about situations which trigger their anxiety. I would recommend to parents to model such strategies. Exposure therapy might also help. Organizations or support groups that focus on dyspraxia (motor control issues) such as the Dyspraxia Foundation, and anxiety such as the Anxiety Disorders Association of America, would be good resources for parents.

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  • Callender, K. J. (2010). Assessment of cheating behavior in young school-age children:
    Distinguishing normative behaviors from risk markers of externalizing psychopathology. Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology, 39(6), 776-788.
  • Ekornås, B., Lundervold, A. J., Tjus, T., & Heimann, M. (2010). Anxiety disorders in 8-11-year-old children: Motor skill performance and self-perception of competence. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, 51(3), 271-277. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9450.2009.00763.x