For Young Adults
How we view ourselves, known as our self-esteem, defines how we view the world around us, and it can impact every aspect of our lives.
When we have a positive and healthy self-esteem, we accept responsibility. We are able to work through frustrations and setbacks easier, and can often feel more comfortable and confident when expressing our emotions. Praise and support from friends, family and peers can increase feelings of self-worth and self-respect. Take a moment and think of a time when you’ve felt really good about yourself.
When self-esteem is low, we can lack the confidence to be independent. We can be easily influenced by the thoughts and ideas of other people. We may become easily frustrated, we may even blame other people for our mistakes, and we can have trouble expressing emotions. As you may have figured out already, low self-esteem can cause problems in school, in relationships and in the other parts of our lives. Constant criticism or being teased can easily lower our feelings of self-worth and make it hard to see all of the things we are really good at. Think of a time you’ve felt low self-esteem.
When thinking of those two situations, you probably liked the time you felt really good about yourself, right? The good news is that it’s not that hard to raise your self-esteem. Below are steps you can take to improve the way you feel about yourself – try them out!
1) Focus on the positive
Do you ever tell yourself that you aren’t smart enough or attractive enough? We all do it, even though it just feeds into a negative self-image. Instead, try to listen to how you talk to yourself, and then change each negative point to a positive. For example, if you are studying for a math test and having difficulty, instead of saying, “I’m terrible at math, I’m going to fail”, try saying, “I will try my hardest on this test, even though it is difficult. There are other subjects I’m good at.” By changing the way you think about yourself, you begin to focus on what you do well. It takes a little practice, but you’ll be a pro at it in no time.
2) Set realistic goals.
Sometimes, we set goals that are unattainable and then feel bad for not being able to accomplish them. If goals go unmet, it is easy to think negatively and say to yourself “I’m no good at this.” Instead, break down tasks into smaller pieces that will help you get to the bigger goal, and always compliment yourself each time you complete a step. For example, if you have a large school project to complete, instead of just setting the large goal of “finishing the project” set some smaller goals like “finding research materials,” and “creating an outline.” As each step of the project is completed, compliment yourself (remember to focus on the positive) on a job well done.
3) Understand your strengths.
Everyone has unique talents and strengths. You might be funny or you might be good in math, art, music or any other subject. You might be a good listener, a good friend or a hard worker. No matter what your strengths are, keep reminding yourself of them. Write down three things you are good at and tape it to your mirror to remind yourself everyday. As you begin to change the way you think about yourself and your talents, you just might find more things to add to the list!
4) Develop hobbies based on your interests.
Working at something we enjoy and we are good at can help us to feel better about ourselves. If you’re spending a lot of your time working at things you are not so good at or struggle to accomplish, you may, understandably, feel frustrated. Find something you like doing and are good at and then take 15 minutes each day just for that activity.
5) Aim for good work not perfection.
You’ve probably heard someone say “nobody’s perfect.” It’s true! So why not just aim for a job well done? Do your best, make some mistakes (we all make them), and continue to pursue your goals.
6) A sign of strength: ask for help when you need it.
Most people have a hard time asking for help. If you are struggling in a certain class, ask your teacher for help or set up time to work with a tutor. If you have problems with organization and it is causing you problems, ask a friend or family member for support in establishing better organizational habits. Asking for help and support is a clear sign of self-confidence.
7) Try something new!
Sometimes when we have low self-esteem we are afraid to try new things. But by staying only with what we know, we are depriving ourselves of learning new skills and discovering our hidden talents. Experimenting with different types of activities can help you see what you are good at and maybe you will find some new things you enjoy too!
8) Look at mistakes as opportunities for learning.
Everyone makes mistakes but that is not necessarily a bad thing. We learn through our mistakes and our skills and abilities are improved through the process of trying, failing and trying again. It was Thomas Edison who said, “Each time you fail, you eliminate another wrong option.” Smart guy. Next time you make a mistake, look at it as a lesson on how not to do something in order to find an even better way.
9) Offer to help someone else.
Use your strengths and skills to help someone else that may be struggling. If you are good at a certain subject at school, offer to tutor someone who may be having a hard time. You can also volunteer for local organizations, participate in fundraisers or help in beach or park clean-up days. This can be fun and make you feel good.
10) Exercise daily. Get moving!
Exercise is a great stress reducer and can improve your health and your mental state. By incorporating exercise into your daily routine you will improve your health and mood. Even a brisk walk around the block can make a difference. Ready, set, go!
11) Accept what you cannot change and work to improve what you can change.
You can’t change your height, the size of your nose or the size of your feet, therefore, there isn’t much use dwelling on whether or not you like these attributes, right? Give yourself a little love! However, if you are unhappy with your weight, you can set (realistic) goals to achieve and maintain a healthy weight (this is where the exercising daily and eating healthy can be helpful.)
12) Don’t work to please other people.
Although we all care about what other people think about us, it is important to remember that working just to please other people will usually end up feeling unsatisfactory. It is better to simply try your best, no matter what the task is. When you do this, you can always feel proud of the outcome because you tried.
13) Surround yourself with positive and supportive people.
Some people are constantly negative and can find fault in almost anything. No fun! These type of people are often not the best choice as close friends. Being positive and offering support to other people is the best way to attract the same kind of person into your life. Spend time with someone who makes you feel good about yourself. That’s what friends are for!
Study Skills Tips
Teens with learning disabilities are unique. Each one has his or her strengths and weaknesses. While one may have problems in math, another may struggle with reading. Because of this, strategies for learning must be specific to the individual to be effective. There are, however, some general strategies that can be implemented to help students with LD better learn and retain knowledge.
1) Create a study environment at home. This space should be quiet, have minimum distractions and supplied with all the tools, materials and resources you need to study and complete your homework.
2) Schedule time each day to complete homework and study. This should be at the same time each day.
3) Take breaks during long study times. Spend a set amount of time completing your work, and then have a set time for a break. Set a timer for breaks to make sure you are ready to get back to work at the end of the break. Exercising, even for five minutes, during your break can help you to focus when you go back to homework.
4) Keep “to-do” lists or checklists to help you stay on task. Mark off items as you complete them.
5) Keep a calendar with test dates and report due dates to help you when planning homework and study time. For larger assignments or tests, create a schedule to break down the work into increments and add these to your calendar.
6) Understand your learning style to make the most of your study time. For example, are you a visual or an auditory learner? Do you learn best with words or through physical sensations? Understanding how you learn can help you to incorporate study methods specific to your type of learning.
7) Use a variety of study methods to help in retaining information. Read the information, write flash cards for important concepts, record yourself reading the material and listen to the tape. By incorporating many different methods, you are using a multi-sensory approach to learning and can increase your retention of the subject matter.
8) When reading text from a textbook, read a portion and then write down a summary of the information. Use the summaries to help review the information. Dissecting information to determine the main idea of what has been read is extremely helpful but can be very hard for some people with LD.
9) Use index cards to categorize the information you have read to help create an organized flow of information and help in remembering and retaining the information.
10) Use the topic sentence in a paragraph, or the headings in a textbook, to help you identify the main idea of what you are reading.
11) Use memory tricks such as mnemonics, silly phrases or acronyms to help remember lists of information.
12) Create a checklist for studying for a test and use it each time you study for a test. The checklist should include the strategies you have found helpful in your studying. Each time you are studying for a test, you can go through the checklist.
Each person will find some strategies work for them and other strategies do not. As you discover what is best for your specific situation, write it down and keep track of your progress. Looking back over your successes can help to provide motivation for continuing to study and work hard in school.
Stress is a normal part of everyday life. Sometimes a little stress can be a good thing. Like when you are nervous before a big test or a first date, stress can give you a needed burst of energy. Everyone wants to do well and be successful, and stress in small doses can even help you achieve your goals. There are also times when school or social situations can be overwhelming and the stress can paralyze you rather than push you into action. Be aware of how you feel, because this type of stress can be harmful to your health and emotional well-being.
Understanding your stress and the things that make you feel “stressed out” can help you navigate through life better. Below are ten easy tips to help you reduce stress when you are feeling overwhelmed, emotionally exhausted, or more nervous and worried than usual.
1) What’s on your schedule?
If you are feeling overwhelmed because you have many responsibilities, review your commitments and activities and decide if you want to do less. Choosing to do less may actually give you the opportunity to do what is left on your list even better than before. You may also want to alternate activities, choosing music lessons one semester at school and drama the next, allowing you to experience, learn and enjoy both activities.
2) Be proud of a job well done.
Aiming for perfection is normal but not the most practical. Learn to feel good about doing a competent job rather than demanding perfection from yourself and others.
3) Hey, it’s okay to ask for help.
If you require help in schoolwork, completing chores at home or at a job, ask someone for assistance. Asking for help is much better than not completing a job because you are not sure what to do.
4) Everybody loves sleep! Keep a bedtime schedule.
Try going to bed at the same time every night. Getting enough sleep can help you both emotionally and physically, and can help you to better cope with any stressful moments that may come up during the day (at school, at work, with friends or parents.) Although it is tempting to stay up late and you don’t really feel tired, it’s important to stay on a schedule and make sure you get enough sleep each night.
5) Get active and exercise every day.
It’s true, exercise has been shown to reduce stress and depression. Making sure you get some exercise each day can help you to remain alert and help you focus on your schoolwork–this can help you have more energy for your extra-curricular activities too.
6) Eat right (healthy food is good for stress)
Would you eat pizza every night if you could? That’s pretty normal for most teens, and while pizza is okay sometimes, it’s important that you eat healthy foods as part of a balanced diet. Salads, fresh veggies, fruits and whole grains are good for you! And just like thinking positively, eating healthy food can take some practice. Eating healthy foods can even help you to function better, especially in stressful situations.
7) Slow down; try relaxation techniques
Deep breathing exercises, meditation or visualization techniques to help cope with daily stresses. These type of techniques can be used every day to help your mind stay balanced and can be used in highly stressful situations to help you cope immediately.
8) Good friends & family–develop your support network.
Having people to talk to or people you can connect with when you need support is helpful. If you don’t already have a support system, think about who of your friends and family you can call on when you feel stressed and ask them if you can call them the next time you feel overwhelmed.
9) And don’t forget to have fun.
So often our life can be filled with schoolwork, jobs, chores and tons of other things we “have to do.” Make sure to include activities in your day that you enjoy–being happy can help you relax.
There may be times when you’ll need extra assistance or special adaptations in high school, college, or at a job. When you were young, your parents or care-giver likely worked with teachers and other school personnel to develop a plan for your success. However, as an adult you will have learn to be your own advocate. It is important, therefore, to learn self-advocacy early on. Let’s get started!
The following are steps you can take to help get ready for the transition into adulthood:
1) Get to know your LD.
Learn about your diagnosis. Ask yourself: How does my LD impact my learning? Are there specific things my teacher or parents have done that work best for me (did visual cues or having a note taker or even taping classes help with my learning)? Understanding your own LD and what accommodations have worked for you in the past will help you in college and in the workplace and will ultimately help you be successful.
2) Attend your Individualized Education Program (IEP) meetings.
Each year, an IEP team meets to discuss your progress and which accommodations/modifications need to be continued, which can be removed, and if there are additional suggestions to help you succeed. Once you reach high school, request to be included in these meetings. In the beginning, you may just want to listen and may not feel comfortable contributing much, but as you become more comfortable, you can say more and discuss what has and hasn’t worked. These meetings will help prepare you for future meetings with college counselors and bosses.
3) Think about your (big and small) goals for the future.
What do you want to accomplish in your life? Do you want to go to college or are you planning to go directly to work? Do you know what career you would like to pursue? Write down your goals, and make sure to break it down into the smaller steps that will help you reach your bigger goals.
4) If you are having problems, meet with your teachers.
Becoming an advocate for yourself means you will need take initiative to solve problems. If you find yourself having problems keeping up or your grades are slipping, ask your teacher to meet with you after class to discuss your concerns and help you find solutions.
5) Get to know your strengths and weaknesses.
Understanding your strengths will help you work on your goals and may even help in determining your career choice. The point of understanding your weaknesses is not to highlight all of your faults (and we all have them), but is instead meant to understand which areas of your life need more attention or where you may need more assistance.