Self-esteem starts in early childhood. A child receives both positive and negative messages from others around him depending on how well they fit into society.
Because children with Attention-Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder can be perceived as different, they often receive negative messages. These messages from adults and peers often evolve into the negative self-talk we read about in many self-help books today. Once this all too common downward spiral begins, ADHD kids often feel they can’t do anything right.
Children with ADHD experience higher levels of stress in the school environment than most children. They often need hands-on interactive learning, are talkative and social, and need to move around to learn best. The school environment is not particularly conducive to this style of learning. Many of the messages they receive at school can also hinder high self-esteem.
Tools for Encouraging Your ADHD Child
Thankfully, there are therapeutic techniques that any parent can use to counteract negative self-talk, help a child release stress and to feel happier. These include positive reinforcement, relaxation and guided imagery.
- Try to “catch” your child doing something good and compliment him. ADHD kids are often the first to offer a solution and always ready to jump in and help. When we begin to see the gifts in our children, our world and theirs can completely turn around. Positive reinforcement helps your child heighten his self-esteem because he begins to focus on what he is doing right, rather than constantly being forced to look at what he does “wrong.”
- Learn to laugh at life with your child. Know being different can be fun and celebrated. Laughter reduces stress and produces endorphins; the “feel good” chemicals in the brain that makes us feel happier. ADHD kids really give us the gift of helping us understand that not everything needs to fit perfectly into society’s mold. Not only do they push us out of our comfort zone, but also give us the gift of personal growth if we allow it.
- To release frustration and tension, teach your child simple relaxation techniques like deep breathing. Deep breathing relaxes the tensed body and the busy mind. It oxygenates the brain and relaxes muscles. Breathing deeply and steadily is an immediate signal to the body that all is well. Children who are taught this skill can use it as a tool when necessary to release tension and stress and better handle situations that come in life. In a relaxed state, they can better control their emotions.
- Guided imagery and positive visualization tremendously help ADHD children to focus and channel their abundant energy in positive ways. These easy-to-use methods incorporate the power of deep relaxation while utilizing the active ADHD imagination. They can erase the old programming and negative messages ADHD children may have received. Using these techniques go right to the heart of the matter – the subconscious mind and help develop new responses and new positive ways of thinking.
As you shift your expectation and practice these steps, you’ll see your child’s self-esteem improve greatly. Most importantly, your ADHD child will be equipped with the tools he needs for developing a positive self-image and high self-esteem.