How to Foster Independence by Developing Self-Esteem

- Rhonda Haller

Rhonda Haller - Insights from Future In Sight

You are your child’s first role-model and teacher. Foster independence by helping your child develop self-esteem. For children with low vision or blindness, self-esteem is linked to their attitude about vision loss. Your child’s perception is deeply influenced by your attitude towards their vision. Feeling sadness is natural but try to not let it shade your attitude and influence your child. Your child will experience their own emotions around their vision. Both you and your child have a right to feel those emotions but dwelling on what’s not possible is detrimental to self-esteem. Developing positive self-esteem provides a solid foundation for independence and success.

 

Your child will also be influenced by society’s attitude toward vision impairment which can be negative and limiting. Most people mean well, but they may not understand your child’s vision. Therefore, individuals can have low expectations and may be too helpful or set unnecessary limitations. Conversely, people may have unrealistic expectations because they do not understand your child’s vision. They may assume your child is “faking” or “not trying” because your child was capable of a task one day and not capable or refusing to do the same task another time. Model advocacy and encourage age-appropriate self-advocacy. The confidence to speak up and communicate builds independence.

Suggestions for building self-esteem and fostering independence:

  • Focus on those things your child CAN do and foster those abilities. Focus on your child NOT the visual impairment.

 

  • Building your child’s self-confidence and resisting the urge to overprotect will give your child the tools needed to overcome societal assumptions that are limiting or damaging.

 

  • Your child may not see what you see but he or she has their own experience of the world that is just as wonderous. Don’t tell your child, “I wish you could see this.” Instead, encourage the use of all senses to experience, enjoy, and learn that world.

 

  • Allow your child to experience challenges. It’s natural for a parent to want to protect them but children learn by doing difficult things. Let your child’s own abilities set limits, not your fear.

 

  • Praising a child’s effort encourages resiliency and takes the focus off accomplishment. Allow for failure and use it as a learning experience. Saying, “that didn’t work, let’s find a different way to do it” instead of “that didn’t work, let’s not do that again.”

 

  • Be honest, but not negative, about your child’s visual impairment and the impact it may have on his life.

 

  • Help your child to get involved with your community and foster interaction with peers. Teach your child to self-advocate by asking for his needs to be met and respectfully rejecting unneeded assistance.

 

  • Your child may not pick up on social cues such as facial expressions and body language so intentionally teach socially appropriate behavior that is expected from sighted peers.

 

  • Find role models and people with similar life experiences. It can be difficult to find others in the community born with low vision. Social media and the internet offer opportunities for your child to find others “like” himself. Watch videos and read posts together and discuss.

We provide training, tools and resources to individuals of all ages who are blind and visually impaired and even offer a full calendar of activities. If you or someone you love is experiencing vision loss and could benefit from our services, please contact Future In Sight at [email protected] or 603-224-4039 today!

About the Author: Rhonda Haller is an Orientation & Mobility Specialist at Future In Sight.