Building Bridges and Fostering Confidence!
Confidence is an armour which can keep a person unscathed through the battles of life, be they emotional, psychological, financial or physical. It is very important to have a strong ‘Confidence Quotient’ to sail through the numerous challenges of life. Self-esteem is also a very important component in drawing boundaries in how we want to be perceived and treated by the world at large, by our professional and personal connections and also in our own mind space. For being a well-rounded individual, it is very important to develop the traits of ‘confidence’ and ‘self-esteem’.
Unfortunately, ‘success’ as we saw it, was typically and quite falsely measured only by status and professional achievements and not by inner self worth. However, the scales have started to tip and increasingly, self-esteem and confidence have come to be recognised as important markers for a well-lived life and in the case of kids with LDs it becomes even more important to instil these values early on for bridging the divide and helping them lead fulfilled lives. Here are a few pointers which can help develop confidence and self-esteem in children with LDs.
Don’t seek external validation: Kids with LDs have specific supplementary issues which can greatly hamper self-esteem and confidence and this world is a cruel place, so the first positive reinforcement should be making kids understand that ‘external opinion’, is what it is called, ‘external’; and does not and should not determine what they feel about themselves. This does not mean there is no scope for self-improvement but that external opinion should not matter in terms of seeking acceptance. True acceptance should come from within.
Also read: My Experience With TABIS
Comparisons are a strict no-no. Parents and teachers need to keep this in mind. Each individual is born with his/her own unique abilities and gifted with their own strengths. To compare ‘X’ with ‘Y’, only makes ‘X’ feel inferior and lacking. Positive encouragement is very welcome but comparisons definitely do more harm than good, in fact, they never do any good; it is the beginning of a vicious cycle of self-doubt and lack of motivation which leads to the child feeling very inadequate and unwanted and these feelings stay on later in life too.
Build on the strengths of the child: As elaborated earlier, every child has their own strengths and weaknesses, build on their strengths instead of ruminating over their weaknesses. A child could find memorising answers a difficult task but be extremely good in cake baking, capitalise on that! Don’t consider talents apart from the structured system as a ‘waste of time’. Many kids with LDs have hidden talents which should be explored and encouraged.
Feel Good Factor: This does not mean unnecessary praise but a genuine appreciation of the child’s initiative and motivation to try something new. Develop the ‘Feel Good Factor’ in yourself and the child and feel the difference.
Letting Go: Children with LDs quite correctly feel discriminated against, this is a hard fact of life, a fact which can’t be hidden by just sermonising about equality. Consequently, they tend to be stubborn and cranky. It is very important to teach them the art of letting go. Not everything is under our control in life and especially when faced with such momentous challenges early on in life, as these kids face. Parents, classmates, teachers and friends can often be misconstrued as adversaries due to holding on to slights. Letting go of anger, disappointments and hurt will help them heal and look forward in life, instead of wallowing in self-pity and doubt.
Creativity has no measure: We all make the mistake of equating good academic scores with future success. The school system is designed to be very structured but here we have an edge over the regular school system and we should fully exploit it. Develop and encourage painting, crafts, gardening, and many other activities which may not fall in the academic sphere but are very useful for overall development of the child.
Contribute time and effort towards a cause: A child or for that matter even an adult gets unique inner satisfaction when they can do something for someone, or even for the environment, animals, etc. Encourage children to do some work for a cause, however small it may be. It could mean planting of saplings or giving street children a treat or distributing story books; any effort to look beyond the self and help others less fortunate will definitely raise the self-esteem of kids with LDs.
Self-acceptance & acceptance of others’ viewpoints: This may sound antithetical but it is very complimentary. Self-acceptance is the stepping stone to building confidence and self-esteem in kids with LDs, however, it is also very important to teach them that others (family, friends, classmates) viewpoints are also to be respected. In fact, this is a major problem in most societies, the acceptance of a contrarian view is greatly lacking.
Kids with LDs struggle with other supplementary issues like stubbornness and boredom which have a cause and consequence effect. Self-acceptance and acceptance of others’ viewpoints will help them to make social connections and forge friendships. Discrimination on the grounds of gender, religion, caste and status should be completely boycotted and here the family plays a great role in being role models as kids usually tend to emulate their elders. If they see a house help being mistreated by their elders, they are bound to think it is alright to do so and may not develop the empathy which is so essential for their own growth.
All in all, children are like clay, they can be molded into the shape the potter desires and the teachers and parents are the potters here, the future of these children lies in our hands. We need to be very careful in our pottery to expertly mold our children, who are already facing tremendous challenges early on in life, to become confident and fulfilled individuals and contribute in their own way to society.
Author: Anahita Dubash
Teaching Faculty – Senior School
The Aditya Birla Integrated School