I recently read an article that said Self Esteem is important in our children with Down syndrome. That, as parents, we need to remember to encourage and praise our children for their efforts and hard work. Without that encouragement, and consequent building up of self-esteem, our children might be harder hit when confronted with individuals that are negative and hurtful in regards to their being born with Down syndrome.
Now, let me make it perfectly clear, I don’t have an issue with this article or any complaints. I do ask this though, isn’t self-esteem an issue for any child? We strive, time and again, to have our children with Down syndrome viewed as typical, normal, average, etc. And we advocate for the awareness that our children might be differently-abled, but they are not un-abled. Then, why do we need to point out that it is ever important that our children, because of their Down syndrome, be built up with self-esteem?
Here is how I look at it, and remember, it only one opinion, my opinion.
Cora is not my only child. She is the fifth in a line of kiddos and while she is the youngest and DOES have Down syndrome, I don’t find myself raising her different from my other kiddos in terms of building up her self-confidence, her self-esteem and her self-awareness.
My son, who is the fourth in birth line, has three older sister and Cora and myself in the household. He is surrounded by women!! He is working on growing into a handsome young man with a gentle heart, has an unshaken love for the Creator. Phoenix believes that all things are possible and judgment from him should be the last thing he offers anyone. He has, at times, been bullied as this has been viewed as a weakness by his other male classmates. We worked through that, we stood strong and I continued to encourage him and build him up with his own beliefs.
My children understand what it means to be a strong individual, to stand up for themselves and to stand for others in need of encouragement. Without asking her too, I often see Cora stumble her way over to a child who is sad, sit down next to them and pat their backs. This is an act of self-esteem. She doesn’t doubt her ability to offer comfort.
I have seen her walk over to my mother who is struggling to get her leg over the baby gate and lift my mother’s leg, while making all kinds of funny groaning noises and then clap when the two of them succeed in getting the leg over the gate. This is self-confidence. She doesn’t doubt her ability to offer a helping hand and knows she will have the strength needed to accomplish it.
You see, I don’t think we necessarily need to focus on self-esteem in our children. We can prepare them through our examples and our encouragement. That, in itself, teaches them how to be strong. It allows them the ability to turn away from the meanies in this world and toward the encouragers. Not without a little bruise of course, but doesn't that come with any emotional growth?
You become what you are surrounded by. If you are surrounded by negative comments, thoughts and actions pretty soon you will become bitter, resentful and angry. If you are surrounded by positive comments, encouragement and solid behaviors you will naturally obtain all the “self” behaviors needed to conquer the world.
Keep exhibiting the behaviors you would like to see your child have and they will naturally pick up on those strengths, and become empowered in their own way.
As for yourself, if you are lacking any of the “selfs”, look around you. Maybe it’s time to change some of the people that surround you, so that you to can become what you want to be, what you need to be, in order to gather some of the "selfs" too you.
Blessings too you,