Jobs that allow kids to earn a little money or opportunities for them to volunteer their services can be enormously helpful in building self-esteem. How often we have heard of a resistant student doing a great job as a baby-sitter or a dog walker? Group activities that are non-competitive (i.e., lower personal risk) are also very good for kids who are teetering between past failures and potential success. Outward Bound programs are especially good at helping kids (and adults) gain a better sense of what they can be. Getting involved in projects that help others who are less fortunate, such as Habitat for Humanity are also good self-concept builders. The hope is that such involvement will help kids be less afraid to take the risks involved in doing something new. If a child has a history of frustration and failure, an unfortunately common scenario for children with ADHD or LD, this will involve some unlearning. Classroom teachers who provide students with opportunities to take small steps toward success can help them get beyond their resistance to engage in certain subjects. For example, a history teacher can allow a student who loves music the chance to demonstrate knowledge by writing a song about an event instead of writing an essay about it. In a math class, encouraging a student to create a three dimensional model that demonstrates a mathematical concept instead of doing 20 problems on a worksheet can be a great way to help a student over the threshold of fear that often comes from repeated failures associated with more traditional approaches. I hope that some of these suggestions can help your son and others like him feel better about themselves and the contributions they can make to the world in which we live.
Beating Poor Self-Esteem
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