The self esteem problem

Self esteem. Everyone has it. Some people have a high self esteem and others, including myself have low self esteem. You may not even recognise a person with low self esteem because we try to hide it. But it wasn’t always this way…

I have Tourette syndrome with accompanying ADHD and learning difficulties but I wasn’t diagnosed until I was 15. At primary school I struggled to write and learn mathematics. I left aged 8 to my middle school but they didn’t help me catch up so I fell further and further behind. I had severe anxiety about getting told off for not completing my work on time and my exercise books were filled with red pen telling me off for not ‘trying’

Self esteem blow number 1…

One thing I was proud of was my artistic ability. I taught myself to draw 3d houses aged just 9. Aside from my ‘cities’ I struggled with drawing because my wrist would ache so much. In an art class we were given famous paintings and told to copy them. I started to draw mine; a complicated figure of a monster, and had got halfway through when the teacher approached…

‘That’s rubbish… start again’ she barked.

Art, my favourite thing… I no longer liked it because I drew ‘rubbish’ pictures…

Self esteem blow number 2…

The same year I suffered a severe panic attack on school photo day. I was really upset that I had ‘lost it’ in front of all my peers.

Self esteem blow number 3…

By this point I was refusing school due to the panic attacks. Eventually this resolved but by now my self-esteem was already at rock bottom. How does it feel to have low self-esteem? I can tell you. You stop caring about yourself and others. You no longer want to try through fear of failing. You figure that acting out or avoiding situations you find hard is easier than trying hard. Basically you totally give up…

Then people wonder why. Why is my kid who was once so happy and doing (moderately in my case) well at school now so moody, angry, hateful and refusing to live up to his/her ability? Why doesn’t he/she do anything I ask any more? But the other people cannot see your self esteem level and decide upon other reasons for your behaviour. ‘Bad’, ‘mad’, ‘disruptive’, ‘naughty’, well the list could go on forever.

BUT there is something that can be done to help children (and adults) with low self esteem. Trying to avoid constant negativity. You probably wonder how you are meant to do that when your kid is doing everything in their power to make you dislike them more, but this is the key to helping them. I hear so often about schools telling my friends’ kids off for behaviours (some of which they cannot control) but so little about praise. No I am not saying give them constant praise, but praise them where it is warranted. With time, you might start to see your old child come back as my Mum did with me.

 

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