When a child feels himself different, in whatever way, from peers, oftentimes the child can develop issues of lowered self confidence. Self confidence affects many areas in the child’s life and can have very long term effects. So how can you, as a parent or educator, build up that self confidence, despite what the child initially feels or what other children have told or continue to tell him?
Everyone, child and adult alike, is better at some things than others. A child that catches academic material quickly may have a hard time socially, while the class clown, who everyone loves, may have a learning disability. Explain this to your child and periodically, point out examples. Find out what your child is good at and give her opportunities to exercise that ability.
Does she excel at sports? Creativity? Problem solving? Compassion toward others? Leadership? Google your guts out to find suitable supplements that answer the child’s need to excel.
For the child whose self esteem is at risk due to social issues, help arrange play dates, or for the older child, activities with friends. For example, get all the fixings for fancy cupcakes and invite a few baker friends over for the afternoon. Maybe pack a weekend picnic for your child and some classmates. In these instances, it’s important to limit the group to just a few – in a large group, your child could potentially get lost all over, again. Sit down with your child, analyze the class list, and choose the three best candidates to invite – three children with whom your child would like to become better friends. Supervise minimally and let them have a great time, together.
Find alternative social groups. Certainly school is where most children spend the bulk of their social time, but youth groups, places of worship and hobby clubs can be an entirely new world, where your child can start with a clean slate social group.
Make individualized, academic goals. Make attainable, realistic goals and recognized when they have been reached. If your child has difficulty in the reading department, there should be some way to mark when a full chapter has been read. Share these victories with your child’s teacher.
Volunteer. Even young children can be brought to an elderly facility to speak with some of the residents. This is great for older kids, too. The possibilities for gratifying, and well-thanked volunteer work abound.
In short, think creatively, network with other parents and search the internet. There are answers out there, but they generally are not presented on a silver platter. Grab your magnifying glass and start looking.