Parents often report that their child’s hyperactivity decreases during the teenage years. Unfortunately, they also report a decrease in self-esteem during this time due to the many years of struggling and the increased demands for strong executive skills their teen has not yet developed.
Self-esteem includes all feelings and thoughts a child has about his or her abilities and worth. Often, children base their self-esteem on their successes or failures. Children tend to compare their skills with the abilities of others. Their feelings about themselves are also based on family, teacher, and peer expectations. Self-esteem plays an important role in a child’s ability to persist after failure: high self-esteem is critical to a child’s overall functioning and growth.
Children with learning or attention problems often lose esteem because of continued failures and struggles. They negatively compare themselves to their peers who don’t struggle in school, and over time, they can easily become unmotivated. Poor motivation often leads to negative beliefs, harmful actions and a cycle of continued failure.
Children tend to “generalize” their challenges with school work to their overall abilities. So, even though a child may perform well on non-academic tasks, if she struggles with learning, she may make statements like, “I can’t do anything right!” or “I’m a failure.”
The good news is that parents and teachers can help change a child’s trajectory in life! Here’s how:
(c) 2009- 2012, Monte W. Davenport, Ph.D.