Thinking Outside the Box to Build Self-Esteem

selfesteemIt is important to help all children to find their strengths.  For some children it is much easier than for others.  Children with ADHD or who are on the autism spectrum have more discouraging feedback in their daily lives than other children.  Some academic subjects are hard for them.  And for some the standard team sports that many children play in grade school are not a good match.

Children with poor spatial skills find sports like soccer and baseball frustrating.  How can you gauge where and when to kick or throw the ball if you don’t judge distance well?  Children with short attention spans are usually bored by baseball as well.  These are the ones who are looking for four leaf clovers in right field.  Children with poor social skills find team sports frustrating as well.   These might be the kids who get overly upset by a teammate who lets in a goal (never mind whether the child talking could stop a goal).

So, is the default to let your child stay home and play Minecraft or some similar electronic activity?  It can be very hard to buck that tendency.

I find parents need to think a little out of the box. This is not news.  If your child fits this profile, you know you’ve been outside the box for some time.  If your child is not skilled in team sports that require eye-hand or eye-foot coordination, what else can she do?  I have known children who have excelled in swimming or track.  These are team sports in which each person competes against herself.  The social benefits of sharing a goal with other kids are still there, but the interpersonal competition and judgment are decreased.

Going a little more out of the mainstream, one could take up archery.  If you don’t have good gross motor skills , you might have what it takes for archery.  This requires the kind of “geeky” focus that is just the thing for some kids on the spectrum.  Another such activity is orienteering.  I just checked the New England Orienteering Club website which says, “Orienteering is a fun, outdoor activity in which you run (or walk) a course in the woods using only a map and compass to guide you.”  Kids of a range of ages can enjoy this.  It has the somewhat “geeky” appeal of using the compass and map to find specific places along with the benefit of getting exercise outdoors.   Other children I’ve known have pursued trapeze.  Imagine what an upper body workout that is!

Then there are non athletic activities. Perhaps your young one is not at all interested in the musical instruments offered in school.  Could she have guitar lessons with a cool young adult?  Perhaps your child has a flair or the dramatic.  Are there children’s theaters in the area?

I could go on and on.  The point is that every child has a skill or interest that can a source of self esteem.  School is such a big part of children’s lives that when it is difficult, it wears kids down.  But when they find an activity in which they can excel, they can really shine.

What creative ways have you found to help your child develop an interest or skill?


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Photo credit:  Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources on Flickr

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