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Teaching Your Child Positive Self Esteem

Help children with ADHD recognize their good qualities with these tips!


When your child struggles with ADHD or processing disorders, the world sees your child's flaws. Uninformed people are quick to belittle any unconventional behavior. On the other hand, you are your child's biggest fan and most loyal advocate. You see wonderful qualities and a beautiful heart. The problem comes when your child can't see those good things.

Do you ever hear your child lash out in hatred or frustration? Self-loathing is often at the root of these outbursts. As a caring parent, you make it your goal to praise your child and make him or her feel special. You may wonder why your son or daughter would ever have these black inward feelings.

One mother relates, “My daughter had trouble for months when she came home from first grade. Since she deals with sensory processing disorder and motor skill delays, school is very challenging. Certain kids weren't making it better with their thoughtless comments.

“In time, I began to realize that her temper tantrums were rooted in her very low self-esteem. Even though I praised her, she didn't truly believe those good things about herself until we worked together to boost her self-worth.”

If you think your child has low self-esteem, what can you do to help?

Open the lines of communication.

Instead of telling your child how to feel, invite him or her to express a point of view. Ask, “What do you like about yourself?” or “What are your best qualities/skills/ talents?” Your child's self-worth may be much lower than you expected.

Make observations, but keep asking questions.

If your child has a hard time thinking of ways to self-praise, point out something small and see if you can build on that. “I noticed that you helped your friend pick up his books when he fell. Do you think you acted like a good friend then?”

Invite your child to tell you about her good qualities.

Once your child is willing to admit he or she did well in one way, invite him or her to expound on that. “That's not the only time you've been a really great friend. Can you think of another time you were supportive?" Be sure to draw your child out. "That sounds cool - will you tell me more about that?" Be completely present at this time, and hang on your child's words. With real enthusiasm, keep inviting your child to tell you more good things.

Improving your child's self-esteem is crucial, but we know that it doesn't happen quickly. Don't give up. Take time with your child once or twice every day to initiate this self-praise exercise. Eventually, your child will begin to see the beautiful things you see.

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