Temper Tantrums and Meltdowns, Behavioral issues, Parenting strategies

16 August, 2022

Breaking the Mold: Paving the road to a healthy self-esteem

How to effectively support children with ADHD to build a strong self-esteem

By: Lorena Patrucco, RECE, B.A (Psych), M.A.

Reducing the stigma of ADHD. Embracing their full potential. Put the person first!

Every child can learn, maybe not the same day or the same way, but they all can thrive in a positive environment!

As a psychotherapist, much of my work surrounds helping children and adolescents to improve their functioning and treating their ADHD symptoms.  ADHD still tends to have a negative connotation in our society that directly impacts children’s learning process, but most of all, their own perception of self. Many children and adolescents walk into my office feeling defeated, misunderstood as well misinterpreted.

The diagnosis seems to weigh them down as if they have something broken, or their way of being does not match the well-framed mold.  They have a hard time fitting in this structured world where what does not fit perfectly like a puzzle piece, it is discarded or dismissed. Humans are hardwired to dismiss facts that do not fit their worldview. So, is it a matter of rewiring human brains or embracing diversity?

Children with ADHD are certainly wired differently…their brains are unique! BUT ISN’T EVERYBODY’S BRAIN UNIQUE? YES!! Their brains are wired in such an amazing way that they could think of so many creative stories in no time, they tend to be fast thinkers, like to help, like to move, and are genuinely funny! 

ADHD self-esteem


ADHD does not define who they are as a person, but the world tends to be quite persisted in showing them the other side of the coin, their weaknesses. We all have weaknesses, but these seem to be magnified when we talk about children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

ADHD is a neurobiological disorder that affects children’s natural development of their brain basic functions (executive functioning) as well as their self-regulation. In plain words, children diagnosed with ADHD could present lagging skills in areas such as, emotional regulation, organization, planning ahead or time management to name a few …or simply short attention span, but they do not stop being who they are. However, they are constantly reminded of what they do…wrong! Sounds like rewiring human’s brain is our first priority as well as educating our society to embrace diversity. Diversity brings shades, colours, challenges, growth and empathy for starters.

All children look for positive attention, encouragement, and praise as these ingredients help them to develop not only a strong self-concept (self-worth), but they would also develop a healthy self-esteem.
When children and adolescents feel good about themselves, they are more likely to try their best, confident and proud of what they can. On the other hand, children that are criticized, put down, or simply reminded of their weakness, have a hard time developing a healthy self-esteem.

Children with low self-esteem feel unsure of themselves. They may feel not liked or accepted, they may give up easily or quit as they find it hard to cope when they make mistakes – as it is a clear reminder that they can’t do anything right. Several studies conducted over the past 10 years show that as children with ADHD grow into adulthood, their self-esteem tends to drop over time because of their past experiences, challenges, and criticism received over the years. This is not exactly a result from understanding and inclusion, right?

What can parents and educators do today so children with ADHD feel good about themselves as well as helping them to effectively develop their brain basic functions?

There are specific things you could do to build on your child’s self-worth, confidence, and academic performance! 

  • Educate yourself! This is my number one advice. The more you know about your child’s diagnosis and his/her/their own symptoms (they present differently in every child even when they all receive the same
    diagnosis), then you could tailor a plan to aid his/her/they needs and practice skills.
  • Recognize positive and recognize effort: make it a point to recognize your child’s success or the effort put into their work. Look for small or big opportunities to praise or encourage your child – even the small
    improvements.
  • Identify your child’s talents: We all have talents and strengths! Make sure to verbalize what your child is naturally good at and encourage him/her/they to pursue it! This can certainly help children to boost their pride as well as their self-perception.
  • Use constructive criticism: when needing to communicate feedback or recommendations, use the “sandwich strategy” positive statement (bread), feedback (what would be worst to work on – cheese), brainstorming solutions (ham), and positive statement (bread)! Remember that weaknesses are goals in progress!
  • Problem-solve with your child: when behaviour is unexpected or becomes a challenge, talk to your child about “the problem” by describing the behaviour and identifying solutions to reduce the negative impact.
  • Chunk Tasks and make them fun! Children with ADHD are fun and playful. Let’s turn it into their advance! Help your child to break down his/her/their homework or assignments into small manageable tasks. Their effort could be rewarded for completing the task!
  • Cut down Negative feedback! Role model good behaviour. Would you use negative feedback or put down your boss or co-workers? Probably not! So, continue your good behaviour at home, your child would greatly benefit from it!

Last but not least, look for professional help if you can’t manage the demand. Parenting support and training, ADHD training, or social skills building are some of the therapeutic options to help families and children to live a well-balanced life. You may not be able to provide all of the support and help they need.

If you can’t manage the demands, it’s totally OK to ask for professional support.

You are welcome to contact Harmony Counselling for a free phone consultation and guidance today!

Get more information, recommendations and parenting strategies in our Blog PostTemper Tantrums
self-esteem attention deficit hyperactivity disorder Psychotherapy Theraphy Mississauga Oakville

Family Counselling, Family Theraphy, Child Counselling, Child Therapy, counselling for kids, Adults, Child Psychologist , Psychotherapist, Therapist, Parent strategies, Parenting, ADHD, Anxiety, Depression, Trauma, Behavioural Issues, Learning Disabilities, Autism, ODD, Social Emotional Issues, Self Regulation, Attachment issues, vocational guidance, Adoption support, Increasing positive behaviour, Divorce / Separation, Parent-Child conflict, Family Conflict, toileting issues, school refusal, trauma, and bereavement, family problems, parenting issues.  Our therapy specialties include: Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Behaviour Therapy, Collaborative Problem Solving, Social Skills Training, Strength-based Approach, Play Therapy, Dialectic Behaviour Therapy (DBT), and Psychodynamic Therapy. Harmony Counselling, Lorena Patrucco, Mississauga. Oakville, Burlington, Brampton, Etobicoke, Milton, Georgetown

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