As parents, we want the best for our children. We want them to be happy and healthy. We also want them to have healthy self-esteem
as this characteristic has a huge impact on their lives. Getting and maintaining positive self-esteem in children with special needs is challenging.
Their self-esteem is also affected by bullying and by not participating in the same activities as their peers. For example, a child with poor motor skills may have difficulty with school sports while his friends take part without
any problems. If children are unable to do things like their friends, they feel left out and isolated from the group.
The self-esteem of children with special needs is also affected by other people’s perceptions of them. Although we try to have a non-discriminatory and inclusive society, we still have a long way to go. Even within the confines of the school environment children are affected by perceived or actual discrimination and exclusion.
- Promote an inclusive environment at your child’s school.
- Make sure any goals set for your child are realistic and achievable by him.
- Do not measure your child’s progress against her siblings or other children. Instead, watch her progress as she goes through school – point out the progress she is making and remind her that you are proud of her.
- If you child does not enjoy the same sports as his friends, encourage him to try an individual sport like swimming or golf, or to develop a hobby in another area.
- If your child develops a hobby in an area, spend time talking about it – even if you are not interested in that hobby. Spending time with your child and discussing her interests will bolster her self-esteem.
- When your child is old enough, talk to her about celebrities, athletes or scientists who achieved a lot despite having a disability.
- Make sure you have an inclusive environment in your home. If all of your children do chores or
help out is some way, make sure you give your “special” child achievable tasks so he is contributing to the household.
- Encourage your child to keep up with the trends of his friends in music, television, etc.
- When your child makes mistakes, do not be critical. Talk with your child about what happened and what she might be able to improve on. Focus on the progress she is making.
- If there are groups or activities in your area for children with special needs, consider sending your child so she can see other children with similar special needs and maybe even make some friends.