I’ve written before about self-esteem and the child with special needs, specifically in Nurturing Self-Esteem in the Child with SpecialNeeds, but I was reminded recently during a conversation, about a game I played with my daughter to help her specifically with her self-esteem.
After experiencing some bullying, my daughter became very down on herself and got to the point where she believed the insults hurled at her were accurate portrayals of whom she really was. She started to believe she was stupid and fat and no one would want to be her friend. It got so bad, she started telling herself these hideous lies, and I knew I needed to do something to stop her. She needed an intervention, but what would work best?
So I caught her saying an evil to herself one day and I explained to her that when you tell yourself such things, you start to believe them. I told her if she continued to go through her life telling herself how stupid or fat she was, she would always be miserable because she was carrying a bully around inside her own head. I told her she was being the bully to herself!
Well, my sweet little girl who would never hurt anyone intentionally was devastated to hear that she was being a bully. That was just not how she thought of herself. So we made up a game to change her from being a bully to herself into being a best friend to herself.
Whenever she thought one bad thought about herself, she had to say ten good things about herself. We practiced this by randomly asking each other for ten good things; for example, we’d be riding in the car and I would just say, “Quick, tell me ten good things about yourself?”
At first it was hard for her and she needed a lot of prompting as well as she would make me go first to model examples for her. Eventually, she began to really like the game and sometimes even get silly with it – “I am a marvelous cupcake baker” with an exaggeration on the word marvelous.
In the end, it did change her negative self-talk. In fact, I overheard her telling her neighbor friend the other day about how telling yourself ten good things whenever you think one bad thing is important for your brain and will make you happy.
I hope this is of help to others in some way. What techniques have you used to battle negative self-talk or to raise the self-esteem of your child with special needs?