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Students’ self-esteem focus for parents at SD 29 meet

Teaching children respect for themselves and others will go a long way toward resolving behavior problems, southeast Queens parents learned at a School District 29 PTA Caucus Saturday.

The caucus at PS 138 in Rosedale focused on how parents can help correct behavior and academic problems in their children, especially those in special education, and featured a morning of workshops led by educators and parents.

“Special education has been misunderstood over the years,” said Nathaniel Washington, president of School Board 29. “We felt it might be of interest to learn more about special education and, of course, how to get your child out once in.”

The forum was the second in this year’s annual series of PTA and Parents Association meetings in the district, which covers Laurelton, Rosedale, Springfield Gardens, Cambria Heights, Hollis, St. Albans, Queens Village and Fresh Meadows. With an eye on special education issues, the caucus dealt with a topic not often discussed.

“Very often we like to cover topics that are very fancy and eye-catching and we lose sight of something very essential,” said District 29 Superintendent Michael Johnson. “We’ve brought attention to those children you don’t hear very much about: the special education children.”

Some 75 parents, school faculty and staff members attended the caucus and its workshops, which covered issues including parental involvement and using district reports as well as student evaluations to help children progress.

“I know what it means to me, this caucus, to parents,” said Rosa Browne, school board member and caucus committee chairwoman. “I know what special education is because it was in my family.”

The morning began with an introduction on behavior concerns by Ethel Charles, coordinator for children’s services at the Jamaica Center for Psychotherapy in Jamaica Estates. Problems can range from misdeeds such as lying, cheating, rudeness, disrespect and aggression to conditions such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, whose symptoms include impulsiveness and inattention, Charles said.

And while ADHD and other disorders require professional treatment and possibly medication, behavior problems may be corrected at home, Charles said. The first step, however, is getting parents to face the problem, she said.

“They say, ‘I don’t have no problems with him,’ but the school has problems, the clinic has problems, so there is a problem,” she said. “Admit it is not others picking on your child but that it needs to be addressed.”

One of the major reasons why children act out is a lack of self-confidence, which will affect how they treat and interact with others.

“Many of the negative behaviors we see in children are related to a child’s feeling of poor self-esteem and their inability to develop a feeling of tolerance and respect for others,” Charles said. “We must repeatedly tell or show the child how he or she is loved.”

Parents must also set a good example in terms of how they behave toward others, including children, she said.

“A parent also does not always show a child and others respect,” Charles said. “We are mirrors to our children. We must remember that.”

Reach reporter Courtney Dentch by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com, or by phone at 1-718-229-0300, Ext. 138.

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