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Nurture Confidently Capable Kids & THE LEFTOVER WOMAN by Jean Kwok

over of the book The Leftover Woman by Jean Kwok, used to teach skill of confidently capable kids.

Fiona is a precocious child who her parents and nanny deeply love. She engages in school and after-school activities, including ballet, which she despises.


Rebecca, Fiona’s mother, is a literary editor competitively bidding on a career-changing manuscript. The agent representing the manuscript sends her daughter to upper-level ballet classes at Fiona’s school. Rebecca believes that if Fiona and the agent’s daughter are friends, Rebecca is more likely to win the manuscript.


Fiona’s dislike of ballet and Rebecca’s professional aspirations are on a collision course. Rebecca forces Fiona to continue in ballet and audition for upper-level classes. Fiona, wanting to please her mother, tries her best to get a spot in the higher-level courses. She even says she pretended to like ballet as well as she could.


Rebecca forcing Fiona to devote herself to an undesired task can have implications beyond an annoying few months of lessons and practice; it can fuel a lifetime lack of self-esteem.


Erik Erikson’s well-respected theory of psychosocial development postulates that people move through eight stages between birth and death. Failure to master the skills of these stages leads to lifetime social and emotional struggles. Between ages 6 and 11, children are working through the industry versus inferiority stage. This stage centers around children learning that they are capable, a foundation from which confidence flourishes.


When Rebecca forces Fiona to continue an activity she dislikes and is terrible at, she sends the message that, to be a good daughter, Fiona must flourish in undesirable and potentially unachievable areas. When Fiona inevitably fails, she will feel incapable and as if she has let her mother down.


Here are tips for nurturing confidently capable kids in the industry versus inferiority stage:

  • Authentically express unconditional love.

  • Respect the ways kids want to express themselves.

  • Provide emotional support when kids don’t achieve their goals.

  • Encourage kids to pursue their interests.

  • Normalize mistakes, losses, and almosts.



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