When my daughter was young, she was a happy confident child that just wouldn’t stop talking. After a long day of work when I was beat and exhausted, she would sit on my lap or in bed after reading stories and wouldn’t stop talking to me until bedtime. I loved that she was bright and social with her friends and classmates. However, as the years past, I noticed she started becoming more quiet, reserved, and very self-conscious when interacting with others. Part of it was becoming a teenager and wanting to be “cool” in front of friends, but I noticed it began affecting her self-esteem and the confidence she had in her abilities.
I did my best as a parent to help her build her self-esteem at home, but observed a change over the years as she grew increasingly quiet, didn’t ask questions or raised her hand in class, and only connected with a few select friends because sometimes kids thought what she said was “silly” or “stupid.” Even though she was very smart and always got good grades, I could tell how it affected her in school and how it influenced how she learned and progressed in her education. I’m sure many of you have or are experiencing some of the same things with your children. As a parent, I wanted my daughter to reach the potential she had inside her and felt she could accomplish anything if she had maintained that same self-esteem and confidence she had as a child.
Every child struggles with self-esteem at some point in their life. Imagine how much more challenging self-esteem can be for a child who struggles in school or who has a learning disability. This can really hinder their confidence and how much effort they are willing to put into their education. When a child has high self-esteem, they don’t waste much time impressing others, they already know their value. Your child’s judgment of him or herself influences his or her friends, if they get along with others, the kind of person they marry, and how productive they will be in the future.
If your child is experiencing self-esteem issues, it will affect their creativity, integrity, stability, and can and even affect whether he or she will be a leader or follower. You child’s feelings of self-worth determine their aptitude and ability, which eventually leads to every child’s success or failure as a human being.
It is important as parents to help our children understand mistakes are not only part of growing up, but making mistakes is important. When Thomas Edison was questioned about trying 1,014 times before inventing the light bulb, he said, “I did not fail 1,014 times. I successfully found out what did not work 1,014 times.”
Instead of looking at how many mistakes your child makes on their spelling test, first praise them for how many they got right and then help them to correct their mistakes. This is how we all learn, by making mistakes.
So how do we find new ways to help our children build more self-confidence at home, in school, and with their peers? Let’s break it down and talk about a few key tools we can use to help build our child’s self-esteem as a form of motivation in school and with their education.
- Focus on strengths. The first step to building self-esteem with your child, especially if they have a learning disability is to target his or her strengths. Try finding something outside of school your child can feel successful at whether it is a sport, art class, craft, or music lesson. As your child gains more self-confidence, continue to remind them that he or she can be just as successful in school. Talk with your child’s teacher to let them know what you are working on outside of school so the teacher can also focus on similar academic strengths that will help them succeed in the classroom.
- Make a Plan with Your Child’s Teacher. As a parent, it’s important to invest as much time in your child’s education as the teacher does. You must be willing to learn about education laws and request any adjustments your child needs to learn better in school. You can prepare a learning plan with your child’s teacher to ensure his or her learning materials are at their level and are tailored to their needs. Your child may need more individual attention or require additional resources like a laptop or tape recorder for taking notes in class.
- Keep instructions positive. Kids hear a lot of negative words, especially if they struggle with behavior or attention issues. Instead of using words like “no,” “don’t,” “stop,” and “quit,” try telling your child what you want them to do, not just what you want them not to do. Many kids need to know what the appropriate or expected behavior is and parents and teachers must be on the spot, redirecting inappropriate behaviors and instructing the child on what he or she should be doing instead.
- Clarify expectations. Taking on complex projects even if the instructions seem simple to others can be tough for children. Sometimes helping children understand tasks and projects from a different angle is more effective. For example, instead of saying, “it’s time to pick up your toys,” try saying, “please pick up your toys.” By using this different approach, children can organize what they need to do to complete the task. Many children, especially those with ADHD, have difficulty creating long-term goals. By giving children “bite-size” pieces, they can build the skills that benefit them in the long-term.
- Use rewards. We have found at our center rewards are a great tool to motivate our students and rewards give them something to work toward. Rewards are a helpful tool to encourage positive behavior and helps children to complete hard tasks. After the child sees that good behavior and greater accomplishments can be reached, they won’t always need the reward.
Every child needs to feel both loved and worthwhile; however, lovability must not be tied to worthwhile performance. The more loveable any child feels, however, the more likely he or she is to perform well in school and gains more confidence in their abilities.
Integrated Learning Strategies is a Utah-based center dedicated to helping mainstream children and children with learning disabilities achieve academic success. Our services provide kids with non-traditional tutoring programs within the Davis County, Kaysville, Layton, Syracuse, Farmington, and Centerville areas. Areas to find Integrated Learning Strategies include: Reading tutors in Kaysville, Math tutors in Kaysville, Common Core Tutors in Kaysville, Tutors in Utah, Utah Tutoring Programs