Isabella recently stated that her school was different. I was surprised that she verbalized this fact. I thought, wow, this is great. Isabella knows who she is. She pointed out that her school had a large, grassy area. Yes, that’s different from your brother and sister’s urban schools. But that wasn’t exactly what I was expecting to hear. So, I told her that her school was for children with learning disabilities. Quite indignantly, she replied, “I don’t have a learning disability.” My first thought upon hearing this was: she has no idea who she is. When I told the story to a parent of a child in Isabella’s school, she had a very different reaction. Her’s was: she has self-confidence.
Okay. Those are two quite varied thoughts about self-awareness of a special needs child. Right? Well, maybe not. Maybe, the views are alike. Does she have self-confidence because she does not know who she is? Or, does learning in an environment with children who have similar abilities keep you level. The playing field is level. Children who go to school with varying abilities always know who the kids are who get the best grades, as well as those who get the worst. There are a lot of comparisons. And the comparisons don’t end there. Kids rate looks, clothes, humor, popularity, athletics, weight, body type, and so much more. Isn’t it okay for all girls to believe they are pretty even though they all look different? What’s wrong with a kid who didn’t make the varsity basketball team, but thinks of himself as a great basketball player? Nothing.
Kids need to value themselves for who they are. Period. Not as compared to someone else. Self-confidence derives from valuing yourself, not from valuing someone else. Child psychologists, teachers, parents all say the same thing. More than anything else, self-confidence is the most important value to confer on your child.
I’m feeling good today as a parent of Isabella!