How to Boost Your Child's Self-Esteem: ADHD Parenting Advice

Many kids with ADHD and learning disabilities also struggle with poor self-esteem. Here's how parents can help.


Filed Under: Self Esteem, ADHD and Anxiety, ADHD Kids Making Friends, Talking with Teachers,

Classroom success

Consider what’s going on at school. If your child isn’t keeping up and feels like a failure in the classroom, find out why. Talk to his teacher. Is he having trouble sitting still, staying focused, and participating fully in class? If so, he may be taking the wrong ADHD medication--or may be taking the right medication at the wrong dosage or on the wrong schedule. (If teachers describe your child as hyperactive, distractible, or impulsive, his ADHD is probably not being medicated appropriately.)

Be sure to educate your child’s teacher about ADHD. Ask her to report back to you about any side effects your child might be experiencing, and explain to her how simple accommodations can help. Perhaps all your child needs is better supervision during unstructured times (walking in the hall, during recess, and so on). Maybe he simply needs a little help refocusing when he drifts away in class.

Does your child struggle with reading, writing, or math, even though she’s able to sit still and focus during class? Consider the possibility that she has a learning disability.

For information about having your child evaluated for LD, go to LDAAmerica.org.

The importance of friends

As you work to help your child achieve academic success, see what you can do to improve her acceptance among her peers. Observe her as she interacts with them during free play, during structured activities, and in organized sports. Ask his teacher how he behaves in the classroom and on the playground.

Watch your child when he plays outdoors or when he invites a friend over (try not to be conspicuous). Is he too shy and fearful to be an engaging playmate? Is he too rough, or too retiring? Does she have trouble interpreting other children’s body language? Is she too distractible, impulsive, or hyperactive to play? Does he avoid sports because of poor motor skills or hand-eye coordination? Does she have trouble understanding the rules and strategies involved in team sports? In board games?

Once you have a sense of what your child’s specific social problems are, look for solutions. Maybe he needs a different medication regimen or social skills group therapy. Maybe she can try a sport that doesn’t require the same level of fine motor skills or hand-eye coordination.

Or maybe you can find a non-athletic activity he enjoys. It’s not easy to boost a child’s self-esteem. But if you can love your child unconditionally, and if you are willing to do a little detective work regarding peer and school problems, your child should begin to feel better about himself. Good luck! I promise you that your child will appreciate your efforts.

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This article appears in the Spring issue of ADDitude.
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