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Buliding self-esteem in your child is important. We all want confident kids that believe in themselves and have that go-getter, can do attitude. But, what can you do to help boost self-esteem? How can you help your Lille one know how important they are?
One of my biggest fears is that Faith will be bullied or teased when she gets to school. According to other people affected by Hirschsprung’s Disease, it seems pretty inevitable. The idea of it breaks my heart. While I pray this doesn’t happen, I have to be realistic. HD kids are the “stinky kid” in school.
In general, it takes an HD kid much longer (if ever) to learn to control their bowels. This means having “accidents” in school. In addition to accidents, there is the smell. Even at two, Faith can clear more than the room. Unless you have smelled an HD kiddo, there is no way to describe it. Most HD parents recommend having a plan in place at school so that their child can use an alternate bathroom, like in the office or near the nurse. While this is definitely the best option, it still could be a source of teasing since it could be construed at special treatment by the other children.
Since I know that she is at a high-risk for being teased and bullied, what can I do? The only thing I can do is try to build her self-esteem. Starting now. Here are 5 easy ways to build self-esteem in children:
- Be Social: Being around other kids and people in the community help build social skills and develop relationships. Join age –appropriate clubs, sports, or organizations that interest your child.
- Foster an “I Will Try Attitude”: Do not accept “I can’t” without an attempt first. Encourage your child to try to do new activities or tasks. They may surprise you and themselves and be able to do it. If he or she is unable to accomplish the task then offer assistance, after allowing them to do as much as they can. It is important to walk the fine line between encouraging your child to develop enough self-confidence to try something new and frustrating them. If the task is too difficult, try breaking it up into smaller tasks, or offer to help. Always acknowledge that it was a good attempt. The last thing you want is for your child to feel like a failure.
- Positive Reinforcement: Adults and children alike respond well to positive reinforcement. Who doesn’t like to receive a pat-on-the-back for a job well done right? Just make sure that it is genuine and matches the accomplishment. For example, we recently potty-trained Faith. At first, every time she went we clapped, got excited, gave her a band-aid (her favorite reward), etc. She has been using the bathroom now for months. She still gets an occasional band-aid for completing her bathroom routine (not just peeing in the potty), but still clapping and getting excited would be overkill at this point. Too much positive reinforcement can make it loose its value.
- Increase Responsibility: Everyone wants to feel useful. Make sure that the task is something that is achievable for your child in order to build confidence and avoid frustrations.
- Spend Quality Time with Your Child: This may seem obvious, but it is arguably the most important tip. Take the time to play or just hang out with your child. It is so easy to get caught up in the responsibilities of the day. This is especially true if your child has special needs. It is easy to get caught up in the appointments, therapies, and medical treatments that your child needs. But take the time out to play a game, talk, read a book, or go to the park. More than anything, your child wants to spend time with you. This is probably the biggest booster in confidence. It lets them know that you love them and that they are special to you.
What other ways have you tried to build your child’s self-esteem? What are ways you like to spend quality time with your child?