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Tips for Nurturing Your Special Needs Child’s Self Esteem

As parents we want to do everything we can to help our children grow and these tips for nurturing your special needs child’s self esteem plays a huge role in their self love development.

First, what exactly is the definition of self esteem?

In simple terms it means how we feel about ourselves, either positively or negatively.

Nuturing self esteem in all of our children is important but especially in our special needs children.

The reason being, once special needs children are old enough to realize there is a difference between them and their peers it can greatly affect their self esteem.

Often times they do not fit in or are not accepted by their peers so it is important they feel accepted and nurtured at home.

So today I wanted to share some simple ways to help nurture self love in your child.

Basic Nurturing

This may seem extremely elementary and we all know this, but spending quality time with your child is one of the fundamental roots to nurturing self love.

These days we are more and more distracted by social media, our phones and by being constantly connected.

We may not even realize that we are not actively spending quality time with our children.

So how exactly do you actively spend quality time with your child?

  • spend time doing activities that are important to them
  • do it without your phone with you
  • participate in playing games they like
  • read together
  • find out what things they enjoy and spend time doing those things

Doing these little things daily lets your child know that their world is important to you.

Even if your child is non-verbal you can tell which activities they like by their reactions to certain situations.

This forms the basis of their self love.

Continue actively spending quality time with your child as they get older.

Nurturing as Your Child Grows

When your child is a little bit older and depending on their ability level you can begin to give them small responsibilities.

Giving your child responsibilities gives them the sense of connection and achievement.

Of course these responsibilities needs to be something that your child can do on their own.

Some ideas would be:

  • empty the small indoor trash cans
  • picking out their clothes the night before school
  • if they are not able to brush their teeth alone have them sit out their toothbrush and toothpaste the night before
  • unpacking and packing their backpack for school
  • setting the timer for the oven
  • involve them in your activities when you are cooking or cleaning

The idea here is to help them feel they are contributing to the family and gives them a sense of self worth and accomplishment.

Remember to keep it at their level so they can easily complete the task.

Your child might be older but their abilities are not that of an older, able bodied child.

Children that are on the autism spectrum can get frustrated quite easily so it is important to give them a task based on their abilities that they can truly do alone.

Use positive reinforcement to nurture self esteem.

Using positive reinforcement is not a new concept at all but with special needs children you just might need to approach it a bit different.

If your child is not able to do things or their own or can but are very dispondent about it here are some things to try:

  • I like the way you got right up for school this morning
  • I like the way you have set your toothbrush every night this week
  • You are really good at making sure all the trash is dumped into the big trash can
  • You are really good at loving on your dog (real or stuffed)
  • You were really good at calming yourself today
  • I like the way you remembered to cut off the light or computer

Whatever it is that you can find to praise your child about no matter how small will help them feel self worth and confident.

These are just a few examples of the really simple ways to give positive reinforcement for your special needs child.

Sometimes I think we are looking for the big things our kids can do and while we are doing that we are not able to see the little everyday things that are big for a special needs child.

These tips to nurture your special needs child’s self esteem will go a long way in growing self love.

This is something I have to remind myself of regularly.

Some things to not do when nurturing self esteem.

It is so easy to become frustrated when dealing with the every day of raising a special needs child.

The tantrums, the lack of social enteraction with them or just taking care of the task they are not able to do theirselves.

It is important to never compare them to your other children.

The most important thing you can do for yourself and your special needs child is to accept them as they are.

Learning to know when to push your child while also realizing their limits.

Try not to give them tasks that you wish they could do but know that it really is not possible.

Coming to terms with and accepting their limits helps nurture their self love.

These tips for nurturing your special needs child’s self esteem are just some simple ways to begin helping them nurture a life of self love.

If you need more ideas be sure to check out your local Austism Society chapter.

Till next time,



Sonya Burgess

Sonya is graduate of Guilford College and a preschool teacher who lives at the North Carolina coast with her husband of 25 years, their three children ages 19,18,12 and their rescue dog Goldie. Her youngest child was recently diagnosed on the Autism Spectrum and she has a heart for encouraging other special needs mamas. One of her favorite out door activities is hanging out at the beach with her family searching for sea glass. She also enjoys doing diy projects and decorating her home on a budget. Sonya blogs at encouraging women to create a beautiful, intentional life and home.

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