Empowering Your SEN Child: Building self-esteem and resilience

Cassie Francis
February 29, 2024

Every child, including those with SEN, has unique strengths and interests but parenting a child with Special Educational Needs (SEN) often comes with unique challenges too. However, by identifying and nurturing your child’s strengths, you can help your child build confidence, resilience and enhance their self-esteem in ways that can lead to lifelong success. Our aim as parents and teacher of children with SEN is to unleash their true potential. Research has shown that empowering SEN children with strategies to boost their self-esteem and resilience can have a profound impact on their well-being and future prospects (Baumeister, R. F., Campbell, J. D., Krueger, J. I., & Vohs, K. D., 2003). Here, we'll explore why empowering your SEN child matters, and provide practical strategies to help them thrive and ultimately, be happy!

Empowering your SEN child means helping them develop a strong sense of self-worth and the ability to bounce back from adversity. This empowerment is crucial because:

Self-Esteem: A healthy self-esteem forms the foundation for a child's emotional well-being and success in various aspects of life, including academics, relationships, and personal growth.

Resilience: Resilient children are better equipped to face challenges, adapt to change, and persevere in the face of adversity. This resilience can set the stage for future success.

Practical strategies for empowering your SEN child:

Celebrate Small Wins:

Acknowledge Effort: Recognise and celebrate your child's efforts, no matter how small. Praise them for their hard work and determination, emphasising the process rather than just the outcome. This helps them to foster a positive mindset and a sense of accomplishment even when the desired outcome is not always achieved.

Set Realistic Goals: Encourage your child to set achievable goals. Breaking larger tasks into smaller, manageable steps can help them experience success more often.

Promote Self-Advocacy:

Teach Self-Expression: Help your child develop the ability to express their needs and feelings. Encourage them to speak up in school meetings or therapy sessions, fostering a sense of agency and self-advocacy.

Problem-Solving Skills: Guide your child in developing problem-solving skills by providing them with opportunities to explore various activities and interests independently, if they can. Offer guidance and help them develop strategies to overcome obstacles but  let them take the lead, encourage them to brainstorm solutions to challenges they encounter and this will reinforce their ability to take control of their life.

Encourage decision making: Involve your child in decision-making processes related to their education and daily life. Encourage them to make choices and consider the consequences, fostering their ability to take responsibility for their actions.

Foster a Supportive Environment:

Create a Safe Space: Ensure your home is a safe and supportive environment where your child feels valued and accepted for who they are. Open communication and active listening are key.

Encourage Diverse Interests: Support your child in exploring a variety of activities and interests. Exposure to different experiences can help them discover their strengths and passions.

Build a Strong Support Network:

Connect with Professionals: Collaborate with educators, therapists, and other professionals who can provide tailored support for your child's needs. They can offer valuable insights and strategies. Maintain open and frequent communication with your child’s teachers. Share insights about your child’s challenges, goals and progress outside of school.

Peer Connections: Help your child build meaningful friendships with peers who understand and accept them. Social support is a powerful tool for self-esteem and resilience. This is important for you and your child so stay informed about local support groups, workshops, or services that might be available to support you as a parent as well as your child.

Model Resilience and Self-Compassion:

Lead by Example: Demonstrate resilience and self-compassion in your own life. Your child will learn valuable lessons by observing how you handle challenges and setbacks.

Emphasise Growth Mindset: Encourage a growth mindset by praising effort and perseverance. Teach your child that mistakes are opportunities for learning and growth.  

Ultimately, empowering your SEND child requires a belief in their potential, a focus on their strengths, and collaboration with educators and support systems. By fostering their interests, promoting self-advocacy and independence, and actively participating in their educational journey, you can unleash their potential and provide a strong foundation for a fulfilling and successful future. Remember, you are a critical advocate and source of support for your child, and together, you can overcome any obstacles and celebrate their unique abilities.

The SEN Expert offers a range of services for young people, families and schools. We offer support for parents to help navigate the complex world of Special Educational Needs. We will work with you closely to ensure the best for your child.

The SEN Expert was set up by Claire in 2021 following a successful career spanning 12 years in school improvement, special educational needs, safeguarding and the arts.

Claire has worked as a Deputy Headteacher, Assistant Headteacher, Consultant and SENCO in both state and private schools in inner city London, the Southwest, the Midlands and the USA.

Throughout her career, Claire has ensured solid outcomes for the young people she has worked with. Be that a set of good exam grades, a placement in specialist setting or getting a part time job.

Claire is a working mother, and understands the challenges parents face trying to ensure their children are happy and successful. We aim to provide young people with a creative route to the personal and professional adult life they deserve.

Claire sits outside a café with a laptop

SEN consultancy
with a difference.

We offer support for families, children, and schools to navigate the complex world of SEN.

Check out our full list of services at our website www.thesenexpert.co.uk or follow us on Instagram @senexpert for daily advice on special educational needs.

The SEN Expert is a company registered in England and Wales with company number 13523478.