Self esteem

How do I develop good self esteem in my child with learning difficulties? Working with children with communication or learning based difficulties often means that parents, therapists, teachers and support staff are working on areas that are weaknesses for the child and are asking the child to do things that are difficult for that child to do. Children can also be aware that other children of their age do not find these tasks difficult. So how can adults and parents in particular develop self esteem in their children who have areas of challenge.

Self esteem is important as kids grow and need to deal with issues such as relationships, career plans and lifestyle choices. In younger children self esteem impacts on behaviour, learning and friendships. Some children are sociable, outgoing and good all rounders in terms of learning. They develop confidence easily and the challenge is to be understanding to others who do not find things so easy. Other children are more complex with a mixed bag of strengths and challenges. These kinds of kids like many of the kids we work with in therapy need more careful handling to develop their confidence and self esteem, while still helping them develop the skills they find challenging.

Sue Aitkins “parenting expert” has a website full of useful and practical tips for parents of kids of all ages. The link is On this website you can download a free ebook on developing self esteem in kids called “how to give your child the gift of self esteem” and you can download it from here.

Lets look at how some of Sue's main points relate to some of the issues faced by parents with kids in therapy.

1. Be flexible. Different children need different things and children’s needs change as they grow and develop. Your child with special needs might need different parenting strategies to your other children. They may need extra time or support to complete things or an extra reward for doing something that is hard for them.

2. What you do and how you act matters. Try when possible to think through the things you do and say with your child, your actions or words can make a big difference. Be positive and encouraging in relation to your child’s efforts.

3. Set boundaries and create security. There are some things that are your decision as a parent, which your child does not have the maturity to decide. Your child might choose what game to play or what sticker to put on their folder, but it is not their job to decide if they come to therapy or if they do their practice. As a parent you need to make these decisions in your child’s best interests.

4. Express your love and affection. Children who see their therapy practice as a warm, fun, special time with an adult want to practice and make the best progress.

5. Get involved. Find out how your child is going at school and communicate with their teachers and support people regularly, you will know what is going on and your child will know you are interested and care about their progress.

6. Encourage independence. Offer age appropriate choices and praise good decisions. Provide supports such as visuals and checklists so that your child can manage some simple tasks without constant reminders.

7. Treat your child with respect. Value their unique personality and strengths.

I hope you find the information in the book helpful.

For more information on speech, language and learning browse our website.

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