4 Tips in Building Self-Esteem for Children with Disabilities
Confidence is something that is crucial in life and lacking confidence or having low self-esteem can lead to dark roads. As children, it is normal to go through phases of finding your confidence, and part of that is having the ability to communicate and grow in that development. A child with special needs perceives the world in their own manner, which can cause frustration and anxiety when they realize their limitations which can result in low self-esteem.
I do feel that society has come a long way when it comes to inclusion and making efforts to learn more about people who have different abilities, but the world isn’t perfect and your child will still encounter people and situations that may not be inclusive and that will be difficult for them to understand and move past. Having a strong foundation of confidence and a strong relationship with communication (verbal or not) with you will help them get through these situations.
Working in the school system more times than not I see the issue of confidence and self-esteem come up with children who are mainstreamed in school. Hear me out! Mainstreaming and inclusion classes are FANTASTIC but at the end of the day these kiddos do need some extra help and they do sometimes struggle.
4 tips that can be used for all children no matter the diagnosis or ability
First and foremost I would say the first thing that should be established is acceptance of the disability by the parent. I PROMISE your child can pick up on this. Understand the disability and understand that “typical” social things that develop confidence will most likely not come naturally to your child and that’s ok! Once you have that understanding you’ll have the mindset to help develop that healthy self-esteem.
Communicate with your child about them. It’s ok for your child to know that have different abilities! This is HUGE! It’s healthy for them to know they may be different, It’s nothing to hide or gloss over, that will only make it feel “wrong”. Teaching them about themself and teaching them that they may be different will allow them to self-advocate and teach others when you aren’t around to speak for them and that in itself will build confidence.
Find their strengths and run with them. Sports, music, drama, drawing…whatever it may be grow that strength and give them praise. A couple of examples come to mind with this, Children with Down Syndrome are often times very social, find local sports teams that they can join! Get them involved in a youth group at church or a community group. Children with autism tend to enjoy playing instruments or drawing, find a group that fits their interests that they can succeed in. Being involved in groups will also encourage peer interaction with kids who share common interests and peer acceptance will go a long way with building their confidence!
4. social stories
Use social stories for situations you know may cause anxiety or stress. Social stories help break down situations that may be difficult for them to navigate and can help them figure out appropriate reactions so they can be better prepared.
Communicate, encourage, and praise.
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