Nurturing A Child With ADHD
The experience that creates self-esteem more than anything else is unconditional acceptance. Most children in healthy homes receive more than a fair share of that for the first year or so. But at a later age, earning this unconditional regard may be more difficult, especially for the impulsive or inattentive child, whose ability to please parents or teachers is often inhibited by disorganized or scattered efforts and accomplishments. When a child does not meet performance expectations, there is less unconditional acceptance by parents and teachers.
We often fall into the habit of making acceptance dependent on performance, so the unconditional regard occurs as a result of meeting expectations. That's not pathological; it just happens to be the way most of us are wired. We begin to reinforce others with our affection when they accomplish what we want; we withhold it, or share it, based on the other person's behavior. But it is more appropriate for us to grant affection and acceptance regardless of performance or behavior. We, are all entitled to basic respect and consideration. We must earn other measures of accomplishment with performance, but we are all entitled to love and compassion.
I believe teachers can be nurturing. In fact the best teachers are always nurturing in many different ways. Parents are not the only ones to nurture a growing child. All of us who participate in the treatment and education of a child have nurturing opportunities and responsibilities. As a teacher, you can serve as a great example to parents by the way you respond to a child's failures and success, by talking with parents about self-esteem issues and emphasizing positive reinforcement, and by individually supporting each child with your praise and personal recognition. Like it or not, as teachers you are very powerful influences on your students, and you have a great opportunity to nurture them along the way.
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