Children with learning disabilities may lose their self-esteem and confidence, especially in school; this lack of confidence may lead to poor performance, which creates a vicious cycle as school performance suffers. However, there are ways you can boost your child’s self-esteem and confidence in schoolwork.
Encourage your child’s natural talent and gifts. If your child is musically gifted, enroll him or her in the school band or musical.
Encouraging children to participate in activities they are naturally good at will give them a boost of self-confidence. For children, knowing they are good at something will also help them cope if they don’t do as well on an assignment in school.
As a parent, your child looks up to you and learns much of his or her behavior from you. Model the types of behavior you want to see in your children, especially acceptance of mistakes.
If you accept your mistakes and the mistakes of others, your child will do the same. Accepting one’s own mistakes grows self-esteem. When your child has an outburst or gets a poor grade, say, “I love you and I know you tried your best.”
Children form their own identities and sense of self. By comparing children to someone else, even in a positive way, you are teaching them that their sense of self worth depends on how they’re doing compared to others.
You must teach your child to note his or her own progress and achievements without comparisons. Here are some ways you can replace or eliminate comparisons with other children:
- Instead of suggesting your child needs to set aside more study time that peers do to accommodate a learning disability, suggest that your child needs to study more than in previous school years.
- Instead of asking how your child did compared to the class, ask how he or she did compared to the last assignment.
Focus on Problem Areas
If your child struggles with reading or math, praise milestones in these areas. Your child will have even less confidence in difficult subjects, so he or she needs more support and encouragement.
You can give children the support they need to succeed in these subjects. Here are some ideas:
- Sit down and help your child with homework or studying for problem subjects for an extra hour each night.
- Compliment children on how hard they work in problem subjects, not on how well they perform. Effort trumps ability.
- Have your child complete assignments in a specific order. Your child should complete assignments for easier classes first to build the confidence needed to tackle harder assignments.