Six Steps To Promote Self-Esteem in College Students

Self-Esteem at College | The Being Well Center

image via Flickr, CollegeDegrees360

Life has taught most of us that thinking you can accomplish a task or reach a goal is half the battle.   There is little doubt that a strong self esteem and realistic self confidence can be a key to success in many of life’s endeavors.  Success at college is no exception.

The new demands that college presents to our kids require a significant degree of self confidence to successfully meet.  Academic challenges that are far beyond anything they have experienced before, meeting and establishing relationships with all types of new people from roommates to professors, advocating for themselves, remaining resolute and acting on their values, and being honest with themselves and us about how they are really doing  are a few of the biggies that require a strong self esteem.

It’s no wonder that as parents, we often go to great lengths to boost our child’s self esteem when it comes to college.  Encouraging her to “reach” for a prestigious school that will look good on the resume even though it stretches her capabilities or our finances too far.  Outfitting our child’s wardrobe and room with only the best in an attempt to ensure that he will fit in when he  arrives on campus.  Setting up bank accounts so that she always has plenty of spending money without ever establishing a budget.  Subtly promoting permissive attitudes about indulging in drinking so he fits in socially (i.e., “we know you’re going to do it so . . .”)

During the high school years ramping up to college, we (and teachers) may cut our kids breaks through easy grading or opportunities for “extra credit” to cover up an inadequate performance.  As a result, our child never has to face failure and come to grips with her strengths and weaknesses, thereby, limiting her ability to develop coping and compensating strategies.  The lack of coping strategies is compounded by many of us excessively structuring our child’s life, providing repeated reminders and hovering over them to foster success.  Accountability and its rewards are replaced with endless pep talks . . . “You’re the greatest… you can do it if you put your mind to it!”

These kinds of parental efforts provide short-term “feel goods” at best.  They fail to recognize self esteem and self confidence don’t come from pats on the back and external circumstances but are cultivated from within . . . when our child independently works hard, faces and overcomes barriers, meets a realistic expectation, and is able to proclaim, “I did it!”

Six Simple Steps to Promote Self-Esteem in College Students

So how can we promote the development of self esteem and self confidence in our college student?  Here are six simple steps:

  1. As early as possible, help your child to truly understand himself…to know his strengths as well as his weaknesses.  This involves staying tuned into our child’s academic and social life, and communicating regularly and honestly.
  2. Based upon an understanding of who your child is, help her to set realistic expectations academically, socially, and behaviorally.  This means setting expectations that are not too high or too low, but “just right” . . . ones that stretch her, maybe even involve taking a bit of a risk, but in the end are attainable with effort and hard work.
  3. Ensure that your child has a plan to meet the realistic expectations including the structure and unique supports he needs to succeed.
  4. Don’t expect perfection from the start.  Let go and allow for “practice” that might involve stumbling and falling some.  Be there to help her get back on her feet.  Debrief what happened and what went wrong.  We all learn the most about ourselves and what it takes to succeed when we are picking ourselves back up as compared to when we are cruising along smoothly.
  5. Brainstorm compensatory strategies by asking our child what he could have done, said, or thought differently to have the performance or situation turn out more successfully.  By taking the time to help him generate his own solutions rather than lecturing or dictating what he should do, we promote the development of effective problem solving skills…a cornerstone of self esteem and self confidence.
  6. To close the loop and help our child become accountable, we need to set limits and provide effective consequences when she fails to meet realistic expectations when she has the tools (i.e., plan) to do so.  Appropriate, short-term, negative consequences promote self reflection while threats, lectures, and name calling only stir up intensity, anger, resentment, self pity and fear; all barriers to success and the development of strong self esteem and self confidence.

For more of the “How To’s” check Accommodations for Success guidebook and workbook. If you need more guidance and support, call our office and set up an appointment.  We’ll walk along with you and help make sure you’re helping your child to be an independent, self esteem grower!

Catch up on other blog posts in our series:

Self-Esteem at College | The Being Well Center

Keys to Success at College for Students with ADD

image via Flickr, CollegeDegrees360

image via Flickr, CollegeDegrees360

Can individuals with ADD be successful in college?

Absolutely, many individuals with ADD are very successful in college.

For others, however, ADD significantly compromises the students’ ability to experience the same success. Not only do the expectations for academic performance, independent functioning, and social decision-making dramatically increase in college, this jump occurs far from home away from the support, structure, and monitoring of mom, dad, and the invested high school teacher.

At home, family routines and parents often structure and set limits for sleeping, eating, money management, and social activities.

When a student moves onto the college campus, he must organize his own time, establish and follow his own daily routine, be fully responsible for his basic daily needs, and negotiate the complex college social life involving roommates, parties, drinking, and sex.

Similarly, before college, parents advocate for their ADD child; away from home, the role of advocate transfers to the student. While the ADD child lives at home, most often, parents keep track of medication, call for prescriptions, and remember missed doses. These responsibilities are transferred to the ADD student the day he sets foot on campus.

All of these transferred responsibilities are tremendously challenging for the impulsive and distractible student with poor monitoring and a short attention span. These new roles and responsibilities can be insurmountable for the ADD student who also struggles with a basic awareness and acceptance of his differences.

image via Flickr, CollegeDegrees360

image via Flickr, CollegeDegrees360

While it can be extremely challenging, college provides the ADD individual with the opportunity to grow in ways he never can if he is living at home.

In my experience, the keys to success for the ADD student in college requires:

  • good self awareness acceptance of ADD
  • treatment compliance
  • a willingness to seek and use support services
  • a commitment to maintaining a healthy daily routine
  • a willingness to work harder than many other students
  • adequate academic skills
  • good study skills and work habits
  • the ability to function independently
  • efficient social skills, good problem-solving
  • and the motivation to succeed

Wow!


How are you or a college student in your life doing with the success checklist items?  Never be afraid to seek help–college success IS possible with the right tools!

 

Do ADD Medications Interfere with Growth?

image via Flickr, aussiegall

image via Flickr, aussiegall

At one time it was believed that stimulant medications, used for prolonged periods of time, could interfere with growth.

In fact, it was for this reason that some physicians began recommending “drug holidays” to allow for a period of catch up growth.

However, most scientific studies suggest that medications for ADD do not significantly impact on growth. In those that have shown some impact on growth, the magnitude of the change is actually miniscule.

I monitor height and weight every three months in all patients for whom I am prescribing medication. After treating thousands of patients over many years, I have yet to see the first patient where medication treatment for ADD could be blamed for an alteration in growth.

Actually, my observations of growth patterns in children and adolescents with ADD are in sync with recent research. Many children with ADD have a relative deceleration of their growth rate as they approach and enter into puberty and tend to experience their growth spurt at a later point in puberty compared to their non-ADD peers.

Depending upon the age when ADD medication is instituted, this “normal ADD growth pattern” should be taken into account when interpreting any changes in growth rate that might occur.


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