Childhood is a special time period, one in which it’s vital to build up healthy self-esteem, self-image, and self-confidence. Children with ADD, ADHD or intellectual special needs may be particularly susceptible to self-confidence issues. Part of the issue is that kids with special needs tend to see the world in different ways to “normal” kids. This can lead to a lot of anxiety and frustration as they start to realize that they have different limitations. It is important that you find ways to build confidence in your special needs child.
This situation can lead to poor self-esteem and child who acts up as a result of the frustration and anger. Forcing a special needs child to participate in activities governed by your rules, is setting them up for failure. They may become despondent or start to develop an “I can’t” attitude and for good reason. It is vital that we work together to teach each special needs child in ways and languages they understand.
It may also be especially difficult to communicate how proud you are of your child’s achievements if they have special needs or if they already have issues with their self-image. Special Strong is here to help you bridge that gap.
Here are 3 Ways to Build Confidence in Your Special Needs Child
1. Practice a Little Self-Love
How can you expect your child to believe in themselves if you don’t love yourself first? What you may not realize, is that your child may be learning their habits of self-degradation from watching you. It’s not uncommon for parents of children with ADD or ADHD to also suffer from attention deficits.
Take a moment to look at yourself in the mirror and the ways you act when your special needs child is around. Do you like what you’re seeing? Are you comfortable with this part of yourself? If not, maybe it’s time you started practicing a little self-love. This is a great way to set an example for your child.
Try a few of these self-love exercises:
- Words of Affirmation – Encourage yourself by using language that embodies confidence, even you are not confident in yourself yet. Most experts recommend you say these statements aloud to achieve the best results. Try looking at yourself in the mirror as you repeat these affirmations.
- Positive Self-Talk – How do you talk to yourself in your head? Do you tell yourself that, “you’re stupid” or “I never seem to get things right?” Try replacing statements like this with positive affirmations such as, “I’m smart” or “I can do this!” While it’s true your child can’t hear your thoughts, but they’ll see that you’re standing a little bit taller the more you change your negative self-talk to positive self-talk. Remember, your child is always watching you and will try to emulate your behavior. The more positively you see yourself, the more your child will do the same.
- Practice “Winning” – Give yourself a task that you know you’re really good at – like playing Sudoku or Solitaire – and celebrate each victory. When you give yourself opportunities to do things you’re good at, you’ll build a cushion on which to fall when you try something new and fail at first. The more of these small victories you achieve, the easier it will be for you to praise your child’s achievements.
2. Celebrate Your Child’s Achievements
Your child is going to experience a lot of small, seemingly innocuous victories. When they do, your child is going to come to you filled with excitement about their success. You simply cannot afford to ignore even the smallest victory. For example, if your child is excited about getting an answer on a worksheet right, tell them what a great job they did. You need to share in their excitement, it will help build their self-confidence and sense of self-worth.
If your child believes they got an answer right, but they got it wrong, you need to help them overcome the disappointment. The best way to do this is to shift their focus to something they did correctly. Give them time to celebrate, then when the celebration is over, you can point out the mistake they made. Be sure you do so in a positive manner and let them know that it’s okay to get things wrong from time to time. Everyone makes mistakes, even parents and teachers. This one of the best ways to build confidence in your special needs child.
3. Give Your Child Room to Make Mistakes
It’s tough to be the parent of a child with special needs. You may want to watch their every move and make sure they’re not hurting themselves or behaving inappropriately. But when a child has the freedom to express him- or herself, they have the opportunity to discover social boundaries or their own strengths on their own. Constant praise can be one of the more powerful ways to build confidence in your special needs child. Let your child discover their achievements on their own and bring them to your attention.
Try to give your child more freedom to explore their world and enjoy small victories, and make mistakes. The more you let them do this the more confident they will become in their abilities. Let them make mistakes (we all do) but use these mistakes as a learning tool. These are very important ways to build confidence in your special needs child.
At Special Strong, we know how important it is to build confidence in children with special needs. It’s difficult for anyone to muster the motivation and self-confidence to maintain a workout regimen, but it can be especially difficult for children with ADD, ADHD, Down Syndrome, Autism or general IDD. We’re passionate about catering to these differences and providing your child with special attention.
Special Strong provides fitness and nutrition for special needs children, adolescents, and adults with autism and other disabilities. Through our online training platform, we also provide special needs fitness certification courses for personal trainers and service providers who want to work autism and other disabilities.