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Maintaining The Self-Esteem of A Child Struggling in School 

Jarod is a bright little boy who can assemble amazing vehicles with lego, but from the time he was very young, he always said something was up when he meant it was down, or that he was cold when he meant he was hot. Handwriting is difficult for Jarod and so is spelling even simple words. He will put “21” on his page and think he has put “12.” Sherry sits next to a girl who can read a book to the class, using fluency and expression. But Sherry is just beginning to understand that each of the letters represents a sound, and that the sounds are put together to make a word. Nicholas always speaks too loudly, and he confuses similar sounding words. He has difficulty memorizing facts or doing an activity which uses the rules of phonics. He can’t follow a series of directions, especially if there is other activity in the room, when the instructions are given.

All of these children are struggling in school. A child may be having a difficult time, because he or she is not developmentally ready to learn a particular skill. Or a child may have a learning disability, either minor or severe, which is complicating the learning process. Children, with or without a disability, often learn best in different ways. There are tests which can be given to determine if a disability does exist. But regardless of whether or not a child is tested, the most important thing a parent can do involves maintaining your child’s self-esteem. With resources to schools limited, a parent’s help is more important than ever.

If a child’s difficulty was developmental, the difficulty may disappear, but damage to the child’s
self-confidence could last forever. With learning disabilities (especially if they are minor, or caught early) a child can learn very effective coping strategies. These strategies may allow the child to reach their full potential, but only if the child maintains his or her self-esteem and confidence.It is equally important that a child not be allowed to use a difficulty as a “crutch,” to avoid work that is hard. There are ways to foster self-esteem, while helping your child to compensate for their weaknesses, and build on their strengths.

Watch for a list of successful suggestions in the next issue of Real Kids!

by Sue Fletcher, Woodstock