Self Esteem

How a Cactus Made My Child’s Self-Esteem Bloom

“A cactus may not seem like something a seven-year-old should have in her bedroom, but it has given her a sense of accomplishment I never expected. She shows it to everyone who comes to visit our house, and she’s drawn pictures of it to turn in for school.”

“I just want something to take care of,” my seven-year-old daughter told me. She had been struggling recently with reading, writing, and making friends — common hurdles for children with ADHD. Still, I had to tell her no. We have family pets and that’s enough.

“What about a plant?” she asked.

We tried an herb garden, a flower bed, and a tomato plant. All of them died because she forgot to water them. When I reminded her that plants need water to live, she got angry and resentful.

But when the leaves turned brown and the plants started to wither, her self-esteem withered right along with them. Self-esteem is hard to build in a young child with ADHD. Killing plant after plant did not help the effort.

[Read This: “I Believe In You!” How to Vanquish a Child’s Low Self-Esteem]

After a rough day of homeschooling, we went to the home improvement store for a break. She was pouting and staring at her feet as we trudged down the aisle, neither of us happy to be there. Then I heard her gasp. She ran ahead and grabbed a small purple flower pot with a mini cactus in it.

“Can I please get this for my room?”

“It is pointy and sharp,” I said to myself. “But at least it is something to take care of.”

It has been a few months since we adopted that little cactus, and it’s alive and well. A cactus may not seem like something a seven-year-old should have in her bedroom, but it has given her a sense of accomplishment I never expected. She shows it to everyone who comes to visit our house, and she’s drawn pictures of it to turn in for school.

She’s proud of her cactus, and it has now sprouted a small pink flower on its top, thanks to her caretaking. She smiles when she tells people that she has something at home to take care of, and that it’s all hers.

Benefits of Gardening for ADHD: Next Steps


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