Suggestions for low self esteem

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by ShakinThingzUp, Dec 6, 2007.

  1. ShakinThingzUp

    ShakinThingzUp New Member

    My son, Hunter, (11 years old, ADHD, PTSD, depression) has really bad self-esteem issues. Without giving the full history, I'll just say that this has become the main source of his current problems.

    He simply doesn't believe he can do ANYTHING... And, if he is reprimanded, even the tiniest bit for anything, he shuts down. He has often told me he's a "bad son." His counselor and our family are working hard to try and help him heal & believe in himiself...

    Teasing by older kids really does him in...

    We praise him often - even for simple stuff. He is involved with boy scouts and does well there. He's in band (not doing so good, but we are encouraging him and he wants to do better)...

    I'd appreciate any ideas you have that help boost a child's self esteem.

    God Bless!
  2. skeeter

    skeeter New Member

    give your son a hug from me...

    We went through this with NL. Part of his problem WAS the other kids at school. We finally made the choice of sending him to another school, and it was the best thing we could have done.

    Continue to find things such as scouts that he can excel in. Does he have any interest in karate or such? Many of the better dojos also teach self respect as well as technique. Perhaps the particular instrument he's attempting in band isn't for him - but there may be a different one he can master.

    He's getting to the age where he can start volunteering, and scouts usually is a great avenue for that. Find something that interests him - NL has volunteered every summer at our local zoo since he was 12 years old. He also volunteered at our local vet and has now turned that into a part time, paying job.

    The thing is not to "praise" him for everything - kids see right through that. But to give him opportunities to do things that really ARE worthy of praise.
  3. flutterbee

    flutterbee Guest

    Poor thing. It's such a hard thing to overcome, too.

    He needs to have successes and positive experiences. I would find him something that he will enjoy, but that you are sure he will be able to excel at. Every little success boosts ones confidence and prepares us for the next 'challenge'.

    My daughter struggles with this, as well. Plus, she's a perfectionist...not sure if it's common to have them together or not. So, even when she does succeed at something (she taught herself to knit for example), she's overly critical of everything she makes just because it doesn't look like something you bought at the store. She knitted a teddy bear without a pattern and I think it's wonderful and have it on my bed. She's looking at it and saying the nose is too big, the head is too floppy. This was her first attempt at knitting something like this AND she did it without a pattern, but she just sees that it's not perfect.
  4. nvts

    nvts Active Member

    It's great that you guys praise him for everything (even the little stuff!). It probably means a lot to him.

    Remember to correct with praise. What I mean is: when he messes up, make sure that you correct him with comments like:

    "I remember when I used to do that, it was hard but it made me a better person once I got the hang of it"

    He's young enough to where he wants to be a lot like you. Make sure that he looks at all errors as learning experiences rather than him being a "bad" person. It truly helps the self-esteem!

  5. ShakinThingzUp

    ShakinThingzUp New Member

    Thanks everyone for your suggestions! I am trying to check into art classes locally. He's very good at drawing, and he can't take art - because it's the same time as band. So, I'm going to see if I can find something outside of school in art...

    He took Taekwondo for a little over a year, 2 years ago. We moved 2 1/2 hours away, to be near my family (for more support), and in this area there is very little available. The Taekwondo program he was in that year was EXCELLENT and did help him. I have tried one program here - which was laughable... kind of like romper room with an instructor who just wanted to teach them how to hit hard. So, that was a bust. I haven't been able to find another program that isn't a 30 minute drive to get there.

    Correcting with praise is something I need to work at....... he doesn't listen to me at all when I reprimand him - he just shuts down... even when I'm trying to be gentle about explaining that something was wrong... So, I'm going to be working on HOW I reprimand or teach when he misbehaves.

    The story about the daughter who is a perfectionist with low self-esteem --- that is my son also! He is so good at drawing - can look at a magazine picture of a boat and draw it perfectly (at least in my eyes), but when I tell him that, he tells me why it isn't!!

    I'm going to look for some books on self-esteem - or perhaps look through some I already have from when I worked so hard with my daughter (step-daughter, got at 9 years old after abuse).

    Thank you all so much...

    God bless!
  6. Star*

    Star* call 911

    Hi there and welcome,

    In my own experiences I will tell you I think you are going about this backwards. Trying to find things that he's good at, or enjoys are good for when he really gets a handle on his self esteem, but not foremost.

    I can speak on this outright because I totally ruined the first half of my life dealing with self esteem issues. My parents had me in EVERYTHING - and I mean every day was practice for this, that, no free time hardly at all. One hand will tell you I've very well rounded in a multitude of events. The other will tell you, it did NOTHING for my self esteem. If anything it solidified by belief that I wasn't good any much of anything.

    Self esteem isn't something that can be won as a prize. You can feel bad about your entire life and then win 1st prize in a handwriting contest and expect that to start the ball rolling. If anything - you remember vividly how well you did at few things because things we do good become habit - things we fail at become issues unless we have the coping skills to handle rejection.

    My best advice to you at this point is put your money towards having him see a psychologist that specializes in cognitive behavior therapy. It's a little more intense that the typical "And how do you feel about that?" type. It will help your son get to the CORE issues of why he feels he's a failure, not good at anything. It took me years to realize that my self esteem did not really exist. Self confidence? Sure, but it's not the same as having the BELIEF that YOU ARE GOOD, YOU DESERVE TO BE TREATED WELL, YOU DESERVE THE BEST, YOU ARE SOMEONE TO BE PROUD OF.

    -You aren't going to find those things out about yourself in ballet, baton, horseback riding, swimming, band, choir, ceramics, - You find self esteem by BELIEVING in yourself.

    Sorry if this hurts anyones feelings, but it's the truth as I know it. There is a reason WHY he feels like this. For me I didn't even KNOW I had issues with being adopted. I could look you straight in the eye and let you know I had fantastic parents and opportunities like no other child - but in my subconscience - I was garbage that had been tossed out, unwanted by anyone. My mouth would tell you otherwise, my heart believed the words coming out of my mouth - but my psyche had a mind of it's own - really.

    All told - it was the reason I picked the man I married, stayed with him through torturous abuse, accepted that same life for my child - and allowed whatever to happen to me - happen. I guess I convinced myself I was no good, and deserved it. Not true at all.

    I am sorry for your little guy. It's tough, but I still think until he gets to the root of his self esteem - you're going to be waiting a long time for him to feel good about himself. He doesn't have the tools at his age to know how to fix what he has no idea is broken. -A psychiatric doctor. does.

  7. ShakinThingzUp

    ShakinThingzUp New Member

    Hello Star...

    Thanks for your input as well.

    1 - He is seeing a psychologist (I call her counselor because its much easier), and she is doing "cognitive behavioral therapy" - I was very particular about locating a counselor to work with him & refused to see just any........ got recommendations from pediatricians, etc. My daughter has Reactive Attachment Disorder & I've been down the road of wrong diagnosis & not receiving the proper counseling & help. Hunter has seen a psychiatrist, pediatrician & psychologist. He's also been tested by a neurologist.

    2 - Hunter CHOSE band class when the school asked what he wanted to do - had nothing to do with me........ I wasn't trying to randomly put him in things to find what he was good at. He also chose Taekwondo and WAS really good at it, did learn self esteem from it, and was harmed farther by being removed from it when we moved - it was the one reason I considered staying - the ONLY reason... I really miss what that program did for my kids. Hunter did much better while in it. I believe art may help him because we already KNOW he's good at it......... the positive reinforcement of doing something we all know he's good at is obviously a good thing, especially if he enjoys it.

    I'm not out looking for a multitude of things for him to try.... I don't have the time or the energy to put him into everything - band is at school, scouting is something he's done since he was 6.......... if I add art, it will be because it's convenient and because HE wants to do it.

    3 - I have done what I can to provide him with the doctor to help & the IEP and the school already...... I put those in place FIRST! Now, I am just looking to find what I can do myself, in addition to all those things, that may aid him in healing.

    God Bless!
  8. Star*

    Star* call 911

    Hey Shakin -

    Question: Does your son do something very well, and when you compliment him on it - completely withdraw?

    My son had to be given what we started calling BOOMERANG compliments. We couldn't EVER give him an attaboy instead we would bounce it off of other people and then let him overhear it.

    Example: difficult child would rake the leaves on his own without being asked. I would come to the door with a pop and say "GREAT JOB" and praise him. He would leave the leaves in a pile and never pick them up. BUT had I left him totally alone to work on it and then went out with the phone in my hand talking to a friend and said "Good golly you should SEE the front yard - Dude did an awesome job." and then just casually look over at him and give him the thumb up - he was okay with that and would finish the job. To this DAY if I don't bounce the compliment he sabotages it. I was just curious if that may work for your son. Sounds crazy I know. But it worked for us and the more we told "others" about how good he did this or that - the easier it seemed for him to handle the praise.

    I am delighted to hear he has a CBT counselor. My son was in Karate and we had to stop due to a move. When I asked him if he wanted to resume it - mine said no. I think he would have been very good at it too.

    It breaks my heart when I hear about one of our kids struggling, and saying things like yours has said. Makes me just want to pick them up and say "You're a fantastic kid" and they don't even know it.

    Poor kid - your post moved me. (thus the extra long reply)

    I will recommend a good /great book for you though. It's an oldie, but a goodies called What is your Love Language? or Learning your Love Languages. It talks about how each of us see or feel love/appreciation/admiration differently. When you feel loved you feel better about yourself. Knowing which language describes him may help you to alerting others what makes him feel better. My love language is service. If you DO something for me it says "I love you" more than buying me something. It's a neat book and relatively short for Moms with near zero time.

    & Thanks for the blessing -
  9. ysne58

    ysne58 New Member

    That boomerang approach sounds interesting. My stepson (now 37 and living away from home) has huge self esteem issues. He has a hard time handling direct comments. I think this boomerang idea might just work. It took me over two years after I married his father, just to get this wonderful young man to stop calling himself stupid.

    I think he has taken my kids to every single kids movie that has come out since they were born. He comes over frequently just to spend time with them. I don't think this relationship could be much better.

    I do hope something like that works for everyone posting here. I always feel very badly for someone with self esteem issues, it breaks my heart to watch that struggle go on.
  10. ShakinThingzUp

    ShakinThingzUp New Member

    Thanks Star...

    Hunter doesn't shut down or withdrawl when given compliments - but, I do know what you mean by that... my step daughter did that, and I used the same approach (boomerang compliments, etc). I actually used the boomerang approach in a lot of ways (discussing personal hygeine with a friend in front of her, etc.). She didn't believe anything told directly to her was the truth - compliment or not.

    My son talks to me when I compliment, he just hen pecks his own "good" qualities or says "No, I'm not" when I tell him he's good at something. He will invariably point out someone who is "better" in his opinion.

    I think the compliments do settle with him. I just think he doesn't hear it enough - perhaps outside the home... and, I'm also afraid that his bio-dad is doing the opposite when he visits him (putting him down for everything), and it does a lot of damage when he visits him... he doesn't get to see him much, then to hear bad comments it is multiplied.

    I do wish there was a taekwondo program here like the one he was in. When in a structured class, where the Master is demanding, and then your kid does something exceedingly well, well.. he believed her when she told him good job. He didn't doubt it.... I could just see his chest puffing up!

    God Bless!