Self-Confidence and Self-Esteem for Children Who Struggle With Dyslexia
Struggling with dyslexia impacts kids’ self-esteem and their self-confidence beyond what most of us would imagine.
Imagine how it feels to be a child looking around your classroom every day at other children who appear to find their schoolwork much easier that you do. Day after day of this experience often causes kids with dyslexia to view themselves as less competent and less clever than other children. The flow-on effects for self-esteem can be devastating. Therefore, it’s important to support the confidence and self-esteem of children who struggle with dyslexia in a few ways. Firstly, it’s vital to have the conversation with your child that helps them see themselves as learning differently from others, but not being less special than others. It’s important that kids with dyslexia don’t view themselves as defective or broken. It is much healthier for your child to see himself or herself as clever and just needing a few things to be done differently to successfully learn.
It’s vital for a dyslexic child’s self-confidence and self-esteem to separate a child’s reading and writing skills from who they are as a person.
This is difficult to do when you are a child, so your child needs your help and support to understand this. Basically, we want your child to see their reading and writing abilities as separate from who they are as a person. In the same way a child would view their soccer skills or artistic skills as separate from who they are as a person, we need our dyslexic kids to treat reading and writing difficulties as distinct skills that need to be worked on, rather than as a part of who they are as a person. This is not a one-off conversation for children with dyslexia – these needs to be ongoing, regular conversations because it’s very easy, even after fully understanding these concepts, for a child to go back to viewing themselves as dysfunctional or as a failure.
Self-esteem and self-confidence recommendations:
It’s important for your children with dyslexia to recognize their own strengths and unique abilities that others don’t necessarily have. For example, if your child is good at sports or music or helping others, adults need to deliberately and regularly point their strengths out to kids with dyslexia. That way, when they are having an honest assessment of their own skills, [which kids are doing all the time,] they can balance the challenges they are experiencing with learning at school with the strengths that are regularly pointed out to them.
All children [including kids with dyslexia] grow their self-esteem by facing challenges head-on.
When kids face a challenge and then back down or run away from the challenge, their self-esteem drops. When children encounter challenges and then tackle those challenges head-on, and give it their best to overcome hurdles that are in their way, children’s self-esteem increases. Regardless of whether the child succeeds or fails to overcome obstacles in life, it is the deliberate choice to persevere against adversity that develops resilience and builds confidence in kids. For children with dyslexia, their self-esteem can grow and stay healthy if they will persevere rather than run away from the challenges they face with reading, writing, and other things at school. Sometimes we as parents or teachers need to cause kids [including those with dyslexia] to persevere and push through the pain barrier that they sometimes feel in regards to their work.
Obviously, we should support our children with all the practical help we can give them, but do not allow children with dyslexia to give up on themselves or on learning, because that hurts self-confidence and it hurts self-esteem and it trains kids to quit.