Building Self-Esteem in Children Who Are Blind or Low Vision
Self-esteem has a strong impact on all aspects of a person’s life. If your child has self-esteem, in general, feels good about themself and their accomplishments. Self-esteem provides a foundation for personal growth and development. Children with high levels of self-esteem are more likely to have confidence in their own judgment and be willing to
- explore new ideas and activities,
- make and keep friends,
- reach out to help others, and
- take on greater responsibility as they mature.
Your positive feelings about your child and abilities, the experiences you provide, and the encouragement you give your child all have a major impact on their self-esteem.
Your child’s interactions with others also influence their self-esteem. Positive relationships will help your child feel more positive. But it’s likely that your child may have some negative experiences along the way. When that happens, you can help your child deal with them in a constructive manner. Perhaps some children on the school bus tease them about their vision, calling names “blindy” and “four eyes.” Let your child know that you understand how it feels about being teased—that it is hurtful, but maybe some children call others by unkind names because they don’t feel very confident about themselves.
Other people may ask thoughtless questions such as, “Why can’t you see that,” or “What’s wrong with your eyes?” You can help your child by suggesting ways they can respond when that happens. Your child might say, “I can’t see it because my eyes don’t work well. But I can read it if you let me hold it closer.” Working with your child to develop simple, factual answers to awkward questions can help them be prepared for challenging situations as well as help them maintain and boost their self-esteem.
Another way to help your child build self-esteem is letting them know what they does well. Help your child celebrate achievements by sharing the news with other people who are important to them. Sighted children see their good work posted on bulletin boards, and they see the smiles on their parents’ faces at school awards ceremonies. Your child may not be able to see these visual cues confirming that they have done well. Be sure to let your child know by words and gestures how proud you are. Recognition from you and other family members can increase positive feelings about themself.
Encouraging your child to help others is another way to build self-esteem. Helping with chores around the house, collecting the neighbor’s mail when she’s out of town, doing yard work with grandfather, and showing a friend how to use a new video game are examples of activities that can help your child feel useful and capable.
Finally, give your child opportunities to meet other people with blindness or low vision. Having the chance to see and talk with accomplished people who are visually impaired—children their age, older children, and adults—can increase your chid’s sense of assurance about their own future.