That was the title of a keynote speech at the CHADD (Children and Adults with ADHD) conference I attended last November by Mark Katz. Think about that title for a minute. As Mark explained, it is the meaning that we attach to adversity and/or the meaning that others attach that influences how we feel about it and how we feel about ourselves. If those experiences are negative, as they can be for many students with ADHD, then it takes more “strength” to stay mentally strong and to not let those experiences determine how they feel about themselves. We know they can do it, just not consistently. So point out that circumstances/difficulties are temporary, not permanent, and that there is usually a light at the end of the tunnel to aim for.
Teach kids that their intelligence is not fixed, it is malleable. Push them to roll up their sleeves and try again. Avoid saying things like, “you’re so smart” as it implies that intelligence is fixed and sends a conflicting message to them when they fail.
Make “making mistakes” a valued part of learning. Encourage constructive learning. Have a mistake jar where chips are put in for mistakes and then reward the family when the jar is full.
Build resiliency. Focus on the positive.
Level the playing field by helping students learn to use the tools, strategies and technologies that work best for them.
Encourage their interests and support them as they find what interests them and what they are good at.
Bottom line – do whatever it takes to keep your child’s self-esteem intact. It’s how they feel about themselves that will determine how well he or she succeeds.
This is an article that was in our December newsletter. If you are not already on the list you can sign up for this free monthly newsletter here: www.laineslogic.com/children.html