On any given day, a child with a learning disability may experience judgement, criticism, and rejection. Judgement from peers who misunderstand him, criticism from parents and educators that expect more from him, and rejection from social circles, activities, and advancement. 

This barrage of negative experiences can do a number on any person. Imagine what it’s like for a kid. As trusted adults in our children’s lives, it’s important to work proactively to bolster our child’s self-esteem. 

Famous People with Learning Disabilities

It’s not all doom and gloom for children with learning disabilities. So many of them have grown up to be successful and innovative adults. Famous people with learning disabilities include Keanu Reeves and Tommy Hilfiger, who both have Dyslexia. Adam Levine and Justin Timberlake have ADHD, and Anthony Hopkins, Daryl Hannah, and Elon Musk are on the autistic spectrum. People theorize a probable ASD diagnosis for ingenious individuals like Michelangelo, Nikolai Tesla, and Albert Einstein, too.

Of course, it would take a divergent brain to think divergently and create true genius.

What is the relationship between disability and self-esteem?

Before laying out ways to strategically support your child’s self-esteem, it’s important to look at the relationship between disability and self-esteem. 

Research suggests that self-esteem may be influenced by a variety of factors, including social support, coping strategies, and personal beliefs about disability. People who have strong support networks, positive coping strategies, and a sense of control over their lives may be more likely to have higher self-esteem, regardless of their disability status.

Additionally, societal attitudes and stereotypes about disability can also play a role in shaping self-esteem. Negative stereotypes and stigma can lead to internalized feelings of shame or inferiority, while positive portrayals and inclusive attitudes can help promote a sense of pride and belonging.

Self-esteem is made up of four attitudes you have about yourself: your confidence, your sense of identity, feeling a sense of belonging, and being self-assured in your abilities.

It’s multifaceted and complicated, but there are strategies for promoting your child’s positive sense of self, and each of these attitudes can benefit. 

7 Strategies for Building Your Child’s Self-esteem

Focus on their strengths: Everyone has strengths and weaknesses, and it’s important to help your child recognize his unique abilities and talents. Celebrate his achievements, no matter how small, and encourage him to pursue his interests. It can be as easy as saying, “I really like the way you talk to your baby sister,” or showcasing a decent grade or piece of artwork on the refrigerator.

Encourage independence: Children with learning disabilities may feel like they are constantly being helped or corrected by adults. Giving them opportunities to make decisions and solve problems on their own can help them feel more capable and confident. 

Provide emotional support: Learning disabilities can be frustrating and discouraging for children, and they may need emotional support to help them cope. Be there for your child when he is feeling down, listen to his concerns, and offer reassurance and encouragement. Remind him of how strong he is and how much he has already overcome.

Set realistic goals: Setting goals can help children feel a sense of accomplishment, but it’s important to make sure the goals are achievable. Help your child set realistic goals based on his abilities and progress, and celebrate his successes along the way.

Advocate for your child: Learning disabilities may require special accommodation in school or other settings. Be an advocate for your child by communicating with teachers, counselors, and other professionals to ensure that your child’s needs are being met. Consider requesting an IEP, or Individualized Education Plan. Reevaluate your view of the school, too. Perhaps the setting is incorrect. Perhaps your child would find better success within a private school. At the Broach School, we work with children to significantly improve their confidence and self-esteem while succeeding in the classroom.

Celebrate differences: Children with learning disabilities may feel different from their peers, but it’s important to help them embrace their differences and see them as strengths. Encourage your child to appreciate his unique qualities and celebrate the diversity he sees in others. 

Provide opportunities for socialization: Children with learning disabilities may struggle with social skills, but providing opportunities for socialization can help them develop important social connections and build self-esteem. Encourage your child to participate in activities that interest him and to make friends with peers who share his interests.

Remember that building self-esteem is a gradual process and may require ongoing support and encouragement. As a parent, you can play an important role in helping your child develop a positive self-image and reach his full potential.