Children often have a difficult time when it comes to self-confidence regardless of whether they have a disability or not. Add in a disability and his/her frustration with self-worth may become even greater. Parents, teachers, and therapists need to take into consideration how important it is to promote a healthy self-esteem in these children and to encourage positive feelings of self-worth in a child.
You are unique and special
Do not ignore a child’s problems, but focus your energy on your child’s strengths. Make time each week to focus on things your child enjoys and is successful in doing. Research indicates that the presence of at least one caring adult helps a child become resilient. Make your child feel appreciated and special.
Learn to cope
Problem solving skills and self-esteem go “hand in hand”. Help your child learn to come up with solutions to his/her problems and role play some of those situations. By working together to find the solution, you are fostering increased self-esteem.
Be mindful of what you say
Be positive with what you say to your child. Instead of saying, “ You need to work harder,” try saying, “We need to find a better way to help you learn.”
Show you care
Try to be empathetic rather than judgmental. Children with disabilities often hear about what they can’t do, focus on their strengths and listen to how they feel about what they are going through.
Avoid power struggles by giving choices for completing activities. For example, suggest different places where they can complete homework…school or home. Allow your child to pick out his/her own clothes. Giving choices to your child helps him/her feel as if he/she has some control over making decisions.
Don’t compare your children
We all come into this world with different strengths and weaknesses, regardless of whether we have a disability or not. Therefore no two people are alike. Studies on twins even suggest that there are differences. So, remember it is unfair to compare!
Play up the positive
Children with disabilities often feel they cannot do anything right. Try to make a big deal about any strength your child shows. For example, if your child likes art, make positive comments, hang up pictures, and show off to others in front of your child to reinforce that you are proud of your child.
Give your child the chance to help someone else
Many children have fun helping others. Let your child raise money for a good cause, help a family member sweep the sidewalk, take the mail indoors for a neighbor, or get involved in other charitable work.
Teaching your children how to understand themselves and how to have a healthy self-esteem is so important. They need to feel accepted and feel as if they are contributing to their hoe and school in a positive way. Make sure that your child is not alone in his/her struggles. Many child struggle at school and parents and teachers need to show these children that they are here to provide support.
Self esteem & stress management. Retrieved Feb 12, 2008
Tips for developing healthy self-esteem in your child. Retrieved Feb 12, 2008
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