Most Effective Ways to Build Self-Esteem in Kids with Autism
Building self-esteem is always a long and difficult process, but it’s particularly challenging for kids with autism. About 1% of the world population has autism spectrum disorder (ASD), but early intervention affords the best opportunity to support healthy development and deliver benefits across the lifespan.
As a parent or a teacher, you should learn how to make kids on the autism spectrum more confident using a number of simple but very practical techniques. Here are the 10 most effective ways to build self-esteem in kids with autism.
- Acknowledge their strengths
Every kid has strengths and weaknesses, so your duty is to acknowledge positive traits and point them out from time to time. There are a lot of things children with ASD cannot do or complete, but you should neglect the negative aspects and highlight their abilities. Whenever you see a child on the autism spectrum doing a good thing, make sure to acknowledge that and praise his/her achievement.
- Let the kids with autism practice their qualities
Acknowledging strengths is one thing, but promoting and encouraging them is totally different. If you notice a special talent, let the kid with autism practice it. For example, many children with ASD have amazing long-term memory or extraordinary math and art skills. In such circumstances, you should convince those kids to spend more time developing their talents and build self-esteem on the go.
- Recognize even the smallest accomplishments
Talented or not, every child with ASD makes a whole range of little accomplishments every single day. You must keep your eyes open wide and recognize even the smallest achievements. A lot of these things are way too small and simple to notice (such as passing a juice cup), so pay attention and do your best to praise it. Although it may seem irrelevant, it’s actually a genuine confidence booster for kids with ASD.
- Give them responsibilities
Another thing you can do is to give kids on the autism spectrum minor responsibilities. This gives children a sense of mission and purpose, while it also makes them feel acknowledged and trusted. It can be anything from assembling a simple Lego structure to setting up a kitchen table. In each case, all that matters is to give kids with autism a responsibility that you know they will handle and feel proud because of it.
- Encourage independence
This tip may seem a little tricky, but you should definitely encourage independence and allow children on the autism spectrum to do some things on their own. They should gradually learn to explore and experiment with their skills because it leads to additional adaptation. It’s a long-term process, but kids with autism will enjoy small victories day after day.
- Celebrate differences
Kids with ASD are different than their peers, but no one should consider it to be good or bad. On the contrary, your job is to celebrate differences and help children with autism figure out what makes them so special and unique. You can describe examples of your family members and explain that minor quirks and peculiarities make them more interesting. Being different is precious, but you must keep pointing it out.
- Explain that we all have a bad day from time to time
Sometimes there is no way to avoid daily crises, but this is not the end of the world. If your kid is feeling down, talk to him/her and give all the support and consolation you can. Explain that we all have a bad day from time to time and help your child go through it easier. Such a tactic has another advantage because it will teach a kid with ASD to recognize and embrace the fact that you will be having bad days as well.
- Talk about people who care
Persons with low self-esteem think that nobody loves and appreciates them. The problem is particularly damaging in kids with autism, so you better be ready to talk about people who really love, help, and support your child. You can talk about other family members, a kid next door, friends, or any other person who proved to be supportive. Mention specific examples to prove that other people really like your child and behave friendly and don’t forget to add that they expect the same sort of politeness and friendliness in return.
- Keep your promises
Children with ASD stick to the rules and they expect you to treat them fairly and squarely. In reality, it means you have to keep your promises and deliver as expected. Even it seems irrelevant, it means a lot to your kid. For instance, if you promised to buy three candies, don’t make a mistake of giving him/her one or two only. It will make a child feel disrespected and lower his/her self-esteem.
- Praise, but be moderate
The last tip is to promote healthy self-esteem in kids with autism. The point is to praise your child regularly without being too enthusiastic or biased. That way, a kid can gradually develop an accurate perception of himself/herself.
The Bottom Line
Children on the autism spectrum always require a more delicate approach, particularly if you want to grow their confidence and promote their self-worth. Self-esteem boosters we analyzed above make an excellent starting point, but feel free to send other suggestions in the comments and share your interesting experiences with our readers.
*This blog post was written by Tobias Foster.
Tobias Foster is a journalist and editor at the Australian assignment help agency. Tobias is an expert in psychology, but he is no stranger to other topics like philosophy, business, and law. He is the father of two kids and a passionate long-distance runner.