Developing self esteem

3 mins read

Growing up is about growing into a confident adult with a range of close friendships, including sexual relationships. It is about developing self esteem, a good body image and the confidence to be happy with who you are.

In this article

Tips for developing your child’s self esteem

All children and families are different, and what works for some may not work for others. What feels right for you and your child is very important. The following suggestions from parents and disabled young people may help.

  • Reinforce with your child the fact that everyone is different.
  • It’s ok for your child to take an interest in their appearance if they want to, for example by wearing clothes they like, or makeup. Your child might be self-conscious about certain aspects of their appearance, and it’s important not to dismiss that.
  • At the same time, do not assume your child wants to hide their disability. For example, if they wear leg supports, do not assume they want them covered up with trousers or long skirts. That might give them the message that the way they look is not acceptable.  
  • Encourage your child to keep clean, use deodorant, wash their hair regularly and so on.
  • Be generous with compliments.
  • Remind them of the things they are good at.
  • There are more and more positive role models in the media – let your child know they’re out there
  • Help your child to develop diversion tactics for any questions about their condition that they do not choose to answer, for example by changing the subject.
  • Respect their opinions.
  • Encourage them to learn about and manage their condition as they get older.
  • Encourage them to make their own decisions about all aspects of their life as far as possible. This will help them to become more assertive, independent and to feel that they have some control over the way they look and their life in general.
  • Try not to talk about your child and/or their condition as if they were not present. This often happens in medical appointments.

I think one person who sticks in my mind is Tanni Grey-Thompson. The reason for this is because she has done so well for herself. Winning marathons and Olympics really shows us disabled people it can be done.


Bullying can happen to any child, but children with special educational needs or a disability (SEND) are more likely to be bullied. However, it is important to remember that not all children experience bullying.

Visit our bullying webpages for advice on what you and the school can do to deal with bullying.