Q. I would like to know how to handle a situation where a child complains a lot about her homework, and doesn't want to do it.

A. There are many different reasons why a child may not want to tackle homework. Try to engage your child in a conversation about school in general, slowly getting to the issue of homework and what is bothering her about the assignments. It might also be helpful to speak to your child's teacher, not to complain about the homework but to discuss the situation in a non-judgmental way and try to sort out both the issue and how to solve it.

One common reason why a child will complain about her homework is because she feels too pressured that whatever she does has to be perfect, that whatever she does has got to be the best. Seeking to avoid that stress, the child would rather not face the homework and the pressure that comes along with it.

It's a very competitive world today. Many parents have great expectations of their children. They want them to be at the top of the class, to be a shining star. Children unconsciously sense their parents' wishes and they, too, begin to strive to be that star.

One of the reasons why Adam was created alone, unlike animals who were created in groups and in herds, is to convey the greatness of the Holy One. For when a human being mints many coins from a single mold, all of them are similar to each other. But the Holy One minted every person from the mold of that first human being, and not one is the same as another.

Adam was unique. So too, G‑d wanted every person to realize they're unique. Every person is a rarity, every person is special and there will never be another like you. Every person was created by G‑d as an individual and is one of a kind. That's the basis of self esteem.

Life is not about competition with others, it's about competition with ourselves. How can I be the best person I can be? How can I be a better person today than I was yesterday?

My father-in-law used to tell his children, "I don't want you to be the best. You could be one before the best, but don't be the best." Being the best is a pretty scary place to be. What if one day I make a mistake and I lose my standing as "the best"? What if tomorrow someone does something better than me? If my identity, my entire worth, is based on being the best, what if one day I'm somewhat less than best, then what am I?

Instead of telling your child, "You're the best," tell her, "You're precious." Rather than saying, "You're the smartest," tell her, over and over again, that she is beloved, by you, by Daddy, by G‑d. Let her know that she's the best Sharon or Laura or Debbie that ever there was. Don't assume your child knows you love her. Children need to be told again and again how much you love them.

But to say that you have to believe in that. In the Scroll of Esther we read about Mordechai, "Vayehi omen es Hadassah"-- and he raised Hadassah (another name for Esther). The root of the word omen, raised, is the same as the word emunah, faith. That's the way Mordechai raised Esther. He believed in her. He trusted that she was special. When you believe in your child, she will believe in herself, too.

Yet sometimes, when we, as parents, feel that we're lacking ourselves, we may try to make up for it in our children. The child becomes our showpiece. And it becomes vital for our child to outdo herself, so that we, her parents, can take pride, can now see ourselves as worthy, "Hey, this is my child."

That's why we have to believe in ourselves first. We have to believe in our inherent value. We have to know our virtues, our qualities. As a parent it's important to build your self-esteem by excelling in what you're good at. Find your strong points so that you can find the strong points in your child.

Help your child discover who she is. If your child shows an interest in art or drawing, provide her with art supplies. If she enjoys gardening, dancing or music, give her the opportunities to develop in that area. Give her age-appropriate activities, chores and responsibilities within the home. It's a great way for children to develop a range of skills and it is a wonderful opportunity for parents to offer praise and encouragement for effort, success and achievement.

Rabbi Yerucham Levovitz, a famous spiritual advisor and ethicist) at the Mir yeshiva in Poland is known to have said, "Woe to the person who doesn't know where he is lacking. Such a person doesn't know where to improve. But a double woe for the one who doesn't recognize his virtues, because he doesn't know the tools he has with which to improve.

Similarly, in the book HaYom Yom, the Lubavitcher Rebbe writes: the true way is to know one's character, truly recognizing one's own deficiencies and one's good qualities.

There's nothing that motivates a child more than the awareness of who she is. Homework, household chores, everything becomes easier for the child to handle, because there's no need for her to prove herself or to impress others with who she is. She is not the smartest and neither does she have to be. She is not measured by being perfect and the best of all the rest; everyone is perfect and the best in their own way. She is a precious child of G‑d, worthy and unique, with a very unique role to fulfill in this world that no one else can achieve.