Tips to build self-esteem in young people (with ADHD)

Give your self-esteem a boost

Self-esteem can change in an instant, measure yours and your child’s constantly. Literally, on a scale from 1 – 5, where 1 =rubbish and 5 = on top of the world, how do you feel? If you feel yourself slipping, try out a couple of the relaxation or energizing techniques to upgrade your mood. (I will devote my next two blogs to relaxation and whole-body energizing techniques).

Self-esteem issues usually start in childhood, but can be triggered at any point in life, often by a major life event or trauma. Sometimes low self-esteem can start after a string of negative events. If you’re reading this as a parent, it’s virtually impossible to raise your child’s self-esteem if your own self-image is poor or you’re struggling with low mood. Take time out to invest in yourself: guilt-free time spent meditating or having a massage is time well spent as it will boost your energy. Then you’ll be better placed to support your family.

Discussing self-esteem in children and young people with ADHD at ADHD Richmond & Kingston

Children with ADHD experience lots of negativity due to their condition and the behaviours resulting from their condition or the labelling language used to describe their behaviours.

They can also experience issues with organisation, memory, concentration, friendships, and other peer relationships – especially in the teen years – which can lead to low-self-esteem.

Impulsive/inattentive or distracting behaviours are a innate part of the condition, but these behaviours can make them feel out of control or powerless, and it is this sense of being ‘out of control’ that can create feelings of low self-esteem.

Schools can help by encouraging children with ADHD to play to their strengths and provide reasonable adjustments.

What is Self-Esteem?

Accept your flaws, limitations & Individuality!

Self-compassion – “I am kind to myself (even if I make a mistake)”

Self-acceptance – “I’m great at some subjects, but not so good at others..”

Self-love – “I’m a great person, with good values & wouldn’t deliberately hurt another person.  Everything about me is perfect, even if I can’t see it or appreciate it yet” 🙂

(Sorry about the poor quality, but a graphic designer I ain’t)

Suzy’s home-spun Self-Esteem Wheel

Your self-esteem plan:

1. Develop calm in your child (yoga, mindfulness). Not easy at all, in reality it can take months to get to a point of managing emotions to within a ‘typical bandwidth’

2. Establish trust with the young person (takes time).

3.Develop ongoing, two-way communication: (group, individual therapy), family chats, hang outs with other ADHD kids, social stories, Talking will help to tease out any underlying anxiety issues.

4. Use Zones of Regulation system – an empowering tool to help children and young people with ADHD recognise their own emotions. Recognizing them, is a first step towards managing them, which is empowering.

5. Create energy in the body – exercise to release feel good hormones.

6. Less processed food, minimize sugar, water, more exercise, dancing, sunlight (vitamin D)

boy meditating

7. Restore self-esteem – service to others, volunteering, caring, good deeds, things that are fun for other people, journaling, self-discovery, peer ADHD friendships, mirror work, talk therapy or just talking to anyone. Talking to anyone else is about being listened to and accepted for who they are.

Talking to someone who will listen without judgement is the key. Talking to a therapist can be seen as a more formal arrangement and some teens might not wish to engage. Looser arrangements such as a mentor or a coach or doing an activity whilst talking can be more effective.

Everything is trial and error, because most self-esteem raising techniques doesn’t work straight away, but don’t give up! Try something else or return to an idea on another occasion.

Here’s a link to a useful anxiety app:

© Suzy Rowland, 2020

If you would like to arrange a confidential coaching session to discuss your child’s low mood, anxiety or low-self-esteem please complete the form.

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