Your Child’s Self-Esteem

Many kids with learning differences struggle with self esteem issues and in elementary age students they often will make comments like, “I dumb. I’m not as smart as my brother/ sister.  I’m not good at school.”  A young boy I recently worked with told me, “I’m not so good at thinking about things fast.”  Clearly this young boy recognized his limitations.

Teenagers with self-esteem issues don’t like school.  They lose motivation.  They stop working hard unless the task comes easy.  Some teenagers get into the wrong crowd and start hanging out with kids that don’t perform well in school.  They try to feel better by being around people that are performing worse than them.  Unfortunately, this does not work to improve self-esteem.  It’s a temporary fix that leads to bigger problems.

If a child is older than 6, I always assess his or her self esteem.  I believe this is a vital part of any complete evaluation.  Some psychologist don’t assess self-esteem and then they miss the big picture of the whole child.  Think about it.  If you don’t feel good about yourself you often don’t have a positive outlook on things.  You may act and feel flat.  So, if you work with me to test your child then we’ll get the big picture and assess self-esteem.

It’s easy to make accommodations for a child’s academic limits.  It’s much harder to make accommodations or improve a child’s self-esteem.  Not every child I work with has self-esteem issues and some that do have self-esteem issues have difficulty in specific areas of self esteem.  See, self-esteem is multidimensional; it’s composed of different areas.  Popularity, Anxiety, Intelligence, Behavior, and General Happiness are all areas of self esteem.  So, sometimes a child feels bad about him or herself in the area of Intelligence but is fine with overall Happiness.  In my written report I explain these areas and how your child feels.

If your child has low self-esteem this knowledge can help you when making educational decisions.  For instance, you may be considering changing schools.  Knowing about your child’s self-esteem also helps you know how to adjust your parenting style.  Some kids benefit from counseling or just need to understand their learning differences and be told by a professional that they are not stupid.  Sometimes when the teenager finds out they are smart it makes a dramatic improvement in his or her outlook and academic performance.

If you’d like to read a book about self-esteem check out Jack Canfield’s book 100 Ways to Improve Self-Esteem.  It’s an older book but the lessons are still valuable today.