I consider low self-esteem an epidemic amongst ADHD’ers. This doesn’t surprise me at all. Much of life, particularly the traditional educational system, is structured in a way that makes us feel like failures on a day-to-day basis. It doesn’t matter how strong a person you are at your core, repeated “failures” day after day is soul crushing. So, after years of perceived failure, how do we start to rebuild our self-worth? Or, for parents of younger kids, how can we avoid the poor self-esteem trap to beging with? The answer is simple. Success.
Increasingly we live in a society of false success. Everyone gets a trophy for participating, but what does that trophy mean? Not much, if you ask me. Kids are smart enough to know when you are blowing smoke at them. They know that that trophy at the end of a season where they hit .086 doesn’t mean they were a success at baseball. But somehow we think that if we give them a trophy and take them out for ice cream they will think they are David Ortiz. I just doesn’t work that way.
There is no substitute for real success. Help you children find real success, by helping them find what they are really good at and really passionate about. Support them in whatever that is… as long as it is constructive, not just video games. Is it sports? Music? Chess? Art? Reading or writing? Helping with younger kids? Martial arts? Volunteering? Let them follow their passions and abilities. (I have not yet met an ADHD child or adult who didn’t have some particular gift, though often that gift is unexplored, or undervalued.) That gift, that passion will lead to success, and that success will lead to self-esteem.
The best part is that the new found track record of success can be used as a template and can translate to many other aspects of life that aren’t so interesting or easy. With confidence and a positive track record, you will be amazed at what you or your kids will be wiling to try and what might be accomplished.