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by Abigail Van Buren

Though Imperfect, All Children Have Value

DEAR ABBY: As a teacher, I open my doors every year to at least one student who has low self-esteem. I spend the school year searching for ways to show that child he or she has value. I feel there is no more important lesson for me to teach.

These children's parents don't mean for this to happen. They want their children to be "perfect." The children, though, know they aren't perfect and feel that who they are isn't enough.

Parents, does this sound familiar? If so, then love your children as you did when they first learned to walk. Love them unconditionally when they fail and encourage them to try again. When they make a mistake, celebrate the strength it took to try. When they mess up, let them know you love them even when they aren't at their best.

Remember, feelings stay with children forever. When things get hard, allow your children to fail and to fix it themselves. Celebrate who your children are. Unconditional love is the greatest gift parents can give their children. -- KATHY IN ELK GROVE, CALIF.

DEAR KATHY: I'm glad you wrote. You have a wise head and a caring heart, which is an unbeatable combination in an educator. The lessons your students are learning in your classroom will influence their lives long after they are out of school.

Read more in: Family & Parenting | Mental Health