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How to Help Struggling Students Build Self Esteem

Girl singingMy heart broke just a little when one of my students recently told me, "I’m just ready to give up." I thought a lot about him and what might help him feel better about himself.

Children who struggle in school need something in their life that they truly enjoy. School is stressful for all children, and when you add learning problems on top of normal school stress it can become too much to handle. Self-esteem drops, and you hear the child say, "I am stupid," more often than something positive about themselves.

Some children are excellent writers. Others create magnificent pieces of art that most people cannot even imagine doing. Many are gifted in sports or music. And some have incredible interpersonal skills. Parents need to make sure there is time in every day for doing these activities.

Parents should also make sure others are aware of their child’s strengths. In this way, a struggling student can be a shining star in some areas and other people may be more willing to help them with things that are not so easy for them. It then becomes easy to say, "You might not do so well in science, but this poem is so beautiful it brings tears to my eyes!"

The next step is to encourage your child to say positive things about himself. If children are in the habit of negative self-talk, they believe those words. It they are encouraged to use positive self-talk, they begin to believe that instead. Be sure that your child overhears you saying positive things about them, as well, because above all children believe what their parents say about them.

If you like this post, you may like an earlier one I wrote called School is Not Life. Indeed, life after school can be so good.

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#2 Livia McCoy 2011-04-05 21:48
Dan, thank you so much for your very thoughtful comment.
#1 Dan ONeil 2011-04-05 08:24
This is a huge problem - there is too much pressure on children and not enough time in their day to do what they do best... play! We have two children and the thought of them going into state run schools, where they are molded into young adults who fit into society fills me with horror! I want my children to be able to think for themselves, make their own decisions and above all, to have a healthy sense of self.

Really, the only options if you want that are to home school, or to pay for a school that provides that ethos for your children. We choose to send our children to waldorf schools, where there is no testing and children do not need to think of themselves as stupid. Everyone encourages everyone else and they all have great self-esteem.

Sadly, I work with many young adults who have been at the bottom of the state school pile and are really struggling to have any sense of worth about themselves. I wouldn't wish that on anyone.

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