Is poor self-image affecting your ADHD child’s academic performance?
With the hustle and bustle of getting ready for back to school; filling those backpacks with school supplies, buying new clothes, making lunches, scheduling necessary pickups and drop-offs, we often forget the emotional feelings our ADHD child experiences when beginning the new school year. Poor self-image and negative feelings of poor self-esteem affect our child’s ability to perform up to grade level and vice versa: poor academic performance can also affect our child’s self-image.
Self-image is how you perceive yourself. It is a number of self-impressions that have built up over time: What are your hopes and dreams? What do you think and feel? What have you done throughout your life and what did you want to do? These self-images can be very positive, giving a person confidence in their thoughts and actions, or negative, making a person doubtful of their capabilities and ideas.
Some believe that a person’s self-image is defined by events that affect him or her (doing well or not in school, work, or relationships.) Others believe that a person’s self-image can help shape those events. There is probably some truth to both schools of thought: failing at something can certainly cause one to feel bad about oneself, just as feeling good about oneself can lead to better performance on a project. 1
Studies show that there is definitely a correlation between ADHD and peer relationships, academic performance, and self-image.
One such study examined relationships between symptoms of ADHD, peer relations, academic performance, and self-image among university-level students. Eighty-three students at a private, Midwestern, comprehensive university participated in the study. None indicated that they had been previously diagnosed with ADHD or were currently receiving any form of ADHD treatment. The students were administered an adapted version of the General Adult ADD Symptom Checklist (Amen, 1995). Particular variables of interest included perceptions of peer relations, academic performance, and self-image. The results showed that 5% of students surveyed met the operational definition criteria for ADHD symptoms. Significant correlations were found with poor peer relations, less satisfactory academic performance, and poor self-image.2
To feel good about themselves, children need two things: the sense that they’re successful, both socially and academically, and unconditional love from their parents. If either ingredient is missing, a child will have a hard time developing a sense of self-image.
A child might reveal his unhappiness by saying, “I hate my life” or “No one likes me” or “I’m just dumb.”
Does your child say or do things that suggest that he feels he isn’t “good enough” or is unworthy of love? Do her words or behavior suggest that she feels like a failure at school? That her peers aren’t especially fond of her, or that she is otherwise unsuccessful socially?3
Tips for Building Self-Image:
Focus on the steps within a task, not just the end product
- Break a large task down into small, manageable chunks
- Introduce frequent, short breaks that coincide with the end of the child’s concentration span
- Provide encouragement at the end of each chunk of work, building their confidence in being able to complete the overall task
Show faith in the child’s abilities
- Where possible, choose and tailor tasks to match what they are good at and build on their strengths
- Keep praising good actions. Children with ADHD can find it hard to accept compliments
- Raise the child’s own expectations about what they can realistically achieve:
They may stop trying if they encounter obstacles and need extra encouragement
If the adults around them have low expectations of what they can achieve, the child will too.
Put mistakes into perspective
- Keep setting clear boundaries about what is acceptable, and help the child to understand that everyone makes mistakes
- Recognize that children with ADHD may seem to:
Take a long time to learn from their mistakes
Make the same mistake repeatedly.
- A lot of patience may be needed, as this may be a long journey for the child
- Help the child to see smaller mistakes in the context of bigger achievements
For example, when correcting punctuation in a piece of work, praise their handwriting/ideas/story.4
Doing well in school, performing at your academic peak will no doubt increase your ADHD child’s self-image. Using Play Attention’s Academic Bridge is a great way for you and your child to know when they are truly paying attention and performing at their academic peak. Academic Bridge will monitor attention and let the student know when they have lost focus. Through consistent and repetitive training, your student will be able to pay attention for longer and longer periods of time.5
The Play Attention family hopes you have a successful school year! If you would like more information how Play Attention can help improve the cognitive skills necessary for classroom success, call 800‐788‐6786. Or register for an upcoming webinar.6