While I love to highlight and focus on the gifts and strengths of learning differently than school wants children to learn, the hardships do also need to be addressed. I remember about 5 years ago, sitting in one of my graduate school classes and raising my hand with a pressing question. I asked our guest speaker how to help children with their self-esteem. At that time, I had worked with many children who were hard on themselves and feeling down about struggling at school. I could see how deeply this was affecting them. Unfortunately I did not get a very helpful answer to my question at that time.
However, I stumbled across the work of researcher Kristin Neff and realized that I was asking the wrong question. It wasn't self-esteem that I could help cultivate, it was Self-Compassion! I came to this realization after watching Kristin Neff's TED talk on Self-esteem vs. Self-Compassion. I learned that "While self-esteem comes from comparing yourself to others, self-compassion focuses on being kind to yourself."
I have since used it in my own life, studied it when completing my Master's thesis and use it in nearly all of my work with children. If a child is beating themselves up about making a mistake, I ask them how they would talk to a friend if their friend made a mistake? Bringing awareness to how we talk to ourselves and showing them that there is another way can be very beneficial.
Want to learn more? I recommend watching Kristin Neff's Ted Talk: The Space between Self-Esteem And Self-Compassion.