It is important for every child to have a positive self esteem. Self esteem is a persons opinion or belief about their own worth or value. Good self esteem means a child (or adult) realizes they are important, are valuable and have abilities. Good self esteem will make your child stronger and they will be better able to face problems and struggles. Feeling good about themselves and having a more positive approach to life's challenges will make them stronger and more self assured. You can help your child have a positive self esteem with a few simple yet meaningful powerful steps.
The first step in helping as child build positive self esteem begins with you, the parent. Parents need to first accept their child for what they are. Accept their strengths, weaknesses, abilities and even their disabilities. This does not mean do not work to overcome disabilities and challenges. It means accept them and start from there. Every child is an individual and just like adults they have different abilities.
Next step is to acknowledge your child's strengths and abilities. At least once a day comment in a positive way on something your child has done. Don't just comment when they've done something wrong or done poorly. Each day look for an accomplishment and compliment your child. Whether it's a drawing they've made or a test at school compliment them. It is sometimes easy to forget to do this so make it a point to do this at least once a day.
Encourage your child. Whether they are working on something new, struggling through something or working to improve something they already do well, encourage them. Congratulate your child when they do their best. Don't just acknowledge success and failure. Acknowledge the path taken and the attempts made, this is just as important.
Give your child responsibility, everyone likes to feel important and feel needed. Encourage your child to pick out their own clothes or select the book that you will read together. Have your child responsible for a chore to help the family. Whether it's setting the table for dinner or filling the dog's water dish everyone can help in some way. Even a toddler can help put a toy away when you are finished playing or put napkins on the table for dinner. If you are going on vacation let your child select one day's activity. Let your child know they are needed, they can contribute.
A special needs child faces more challenges than a typical child and therefore may have an increased risk for lower self esteem. One of the factors that may contribute to a special needs child having a lowered self esteem is that there is often a focus on their disability or challenge. It becomes important for parents of special needs children to directly address their child's self esteem. Be sure to focus on their strengths and abilities. A child's identity should not be based solely on their disability or challenge.
Take for example
a child with Neurofibromatosis. Even with only mild manifestations, children
with Neurofibromatosis will need to see a variety of specialized doctors on a
yearly basis. As a child gets older frequent doctor appointments may make them
feel weaker than their friends. These children may also have café-au-lait spots, Neurofibromas, or need leg braces, and these
physical signs can also detract from their self esteem. For a child with medical
complications requiring hospital stays or advanced tumor treatment, their self
esteem takes another strike.
The first step is to tell a child that the doctor appointments or hospital visits are not signs of weakness; they are a sign of strength and power, the doctors and hospitals are on their team. Even the greatest ball player has a doctor, a manager and a coach on their team.
Children with other medical conditions, challenges, disabilities or developmental delays need reassurances that they are just as valuable as an unchallenged child. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses and no one is perfect. No one is good at everything but everyone is good at something. Let your child know that adults also struggle to learn something or develop a new skill.
Give your child responsibility and acknowledge their strengths and abilities just as you would a child without challenges or disabilities. Help them to build and develop their strengths and abilities.
Encourage children to read books to bolster their self esteem. For younger children read books to them. See books to develop child's self esteem and consider letting them learn a musical instrument. Read about Teaching Children to Play Piano.
Consider signing your child up for local children's organizations or clubs. Local children's sports teams, dance classes, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts are all wonderful ways to not only help your child grow but to expand their circle of friends. Developing friends with similar interests will make them feel better about themselves.
Siblings of special needs children may also have lower self esteem. Health needs and special issues of siblings sometimes may make a child feel forgotten. It is important reinforce positive self esteem in all your children.
Building your child's self esteem will help them become confident young adults and a little confidence will go a long way.