Podcast Episode 32. The best way to boost the self-esteem of our children is to let them have their say, give them a voice and help them to feel a sense of control, according to Soli Lazarus this week’s podcast guest.

Soli has a son with ADHD and so knows some of the struggles parents have first hand, as well as being a teacher for over 30 years. Her consultancy Yellow Sun delivers support and advice to parents of children with additional needs and challenging behaviour.

Soli believes one of the biggest issues for children with additional needs is suffering from low self-esteem due to society pressuring them from a young age to conform to the ‘norm’. Children may interrupt, be disorganised, be inattentive and so from an early age they are branded as naughty and constantly being told off. Consequently, their self-esteem plummets.

To help deal with this Soli talks about how important it is to provide our children with routine, whilst also giving them responsibilities so that they can be rewarded and praised. She discusses the importance of giving them the opportunity to make decisions when at home, because school can often be a very rigid place with little chance for make independent choices. By giving them the choice and the power, they feel listened to. Soli also addresses how this giving of more choice can impact on siblings and ways to deal with any feelings of jealousy they may have.

As an experienced teacher, Soli also talks about what she sees as an outdated education system focused on times tables when the focus should be on technology solutions which children with additional needs can access much easier. She explains how children with additional needs often feel happier online and this is a great way to counteract the difficulties surrounding making face-to-face social networks. Soli feels that using online tools can help to develop social skills and move them to a point where they can say they have real friends. Obviously, this all needs to be done in a safe environment and she reminds us that as parents we need to make sure we keep up to date as much as possible with the online world.

Soli talks also about frazzled parents and offers some suggestions to deal with those feelings of overwhelm. She talks about the importance of taking a moment out of every day to do something for yourself without feeling any guilt. She also talks about her own experiences of being lonely and feeling like she was the only one in her situation when her son was diagnosed. For her finding others who understood even a little of what she was going through was essential in helping her move forward.

The main idea from Soli is about sending messages to our children that help them build their self-esteem, develop their strengths and let them know that if they fail, that’s ok, it’s just a part of living their own lives.