Tips for Raising Your Child's Self-Esteemby Eileen Bailey Health Writer
Self-Esteem. This is how we view our own self worth. Although this should be measured in terms of the type of person we are, for example, are we trustworthy, honest, caring, and loving, too often self-worth is measured in terms of how successful we may be. We view our worth in terms of how well we did in school, what type of job we have, where we live, and what other people think of us.
For those people with ADD/ADHD, many of these areas are the same areas of difficulty. People with ADD/ADHD often have problems in school, with social relationships and may move from job to job. Rather than placing their self worth on the type of person they are, they view it through their failures or struggles. Those with ADD/ADHD often suffer from low self-esteem.
Children with ADD/ADHD may struggle in school and with social relationships. They may be ridiculed by their classmates and feel alone and isolated. They may have disruptive behaviors and some teachers may reprimand them in front of their peers. They may feel stupid and have poor grades, even though their intellectual abilities do not warrant lower grades.
In addition, individuals with ADD/ADHD often do not make connections to events that occurred in the past. For example, a child with ADD/ADHD does not always make the connection between not handing in homework and a report card grade that appears several months from now. Adults can carry this forward, not building upon their successes but measuring self worth based on a current situation. They may have a hard time associating a successful even that occurred months ago with how they feel about themselves today. High self-esteem comes from building self worth based on successes. Using only the current situation would mean that you are only worthy if you are successful right now; if you fail in your current situation, then self-worth would be depleted.
Considering these issues, it is no surprise that people with ADD/ADHD often suffer from low self-esteem. Increasing self-esteem is a difficult process and can take a great deal of time, but it can be done.
Tips to Help Raise Your Child's Self Esteem
Listen to how you speak to your child. Do you tend to criticize, even unknowingly? Change your tone of voice or your words to show that you accept your child rather than showing criticism.
Give your children chores around the house. Use your child's emotional as well as chronological age to help set chores up. They may be able to vacuum, dust furniture, clear the table at night or take out the trash. Create a chart to help them remember and track their progress. Provide rewards for completing the chores. The sense of accomplishment they will get from having responsibilities will help them feel better about themselves.
Find ways to build upon their strengths. If your child likes to draw, make sure they have ample opportunity to develop their talent and interest. Many times, if they struggle in one area, such as schoolwork, it will become the focus of their view of themselves. Creating areas of success will help them to focus instead on areas in which they excel.
Break large tasks into smaller chunks so your children can have a sense of accomplishment along the way. If they have a large school project coming up, help them to break it down into steps. They will feel better about the project and end with knowing they have been productive rather than looking at the whole project and becoming overwhelmed.
Set goals to help your children improve in areas in which they have shortcomings. Understand what their limitations are and build upon them rather than focusing on them.
Find ways in which your children can make decisions. No matter how small the decision may be, such as what to wear each morning, giving them control of some decisions will help them feel capable. Other places you can begin introducing decision making might be: choosing dinner one night a week, choosing which toy to play with, or choosing to do homework before an afternoon snack or immediately after school.
Keep track of your child's school progress. Performing poorly in school is often a source of self-esteem issues. Communicating regularly with their teacher and monitoring homework can help increase their abilities in school and make them feel better about school.
Look for times your child behaves well or accomplishes something. Take the time to let them know you see how hard they are working and compliment them whenever you "catch them being good." Make sure you are sincere in your compliments; children can tell when you are just saying something or when you mean what you say. Being specific in your compliments, such as "I am proud of how hard you tried today cleaning up your toys" is much better than "good job." It will let your children know that you noticed what they did.
Let your children know that mistakes are okay. Adopt an attitude that mistakes are learning opportunities, not failures.