For Families and Carers : Self-Esteem

Woman with Down's syndrome looking up


Self-esteem is about accepting who you are. Many teenagers and young people, including people with Down’s syndrome, struggle with self-esteem to a certain degree. Your son or daughter may also have begun to notice the differences between themselves and their peers. This can have an additional negative impact on their self-esteem. However, developing a healthy self-esteem can help them understand and accept who they are as a person, rather than seeing only ‘Down’s syndrome’.

Tips for developing healthy self-esteem

  • Now is the time to tell your son or daughter about Down’s syndrome if you haven’t already. Make it simple and concrete and be realistic, but emphasise that they are more than Down’s syndrome. Though they may struggle with some things, they are a unique person with their own talents, strengths and personality.
  • Your son or daughter may be focusing on what they can’t do. Point out the things they can do rather than the areas they find difficult.
  • Support your son or daughter to take as much control over their own life as possible. Help them make as many of their own choices and decisions as they can.
  • Encourage friendships, independence and social interaction with people their own age.
  • Support your son or daughter to develop friendships with peers with learning disabilities and without learning disabilities. Having a mixture of friendships, including with people with learning disabilities, can help your son or daughter accept and feel happier with who they are.

Getting support

If you are concerned about your son or daughter’s self-esteem, and you feel it is having a negative impact on their wellbeing or mental health, speak to your GP about your concerns. You can also call the DSA Helpline on 0333 1212 300.

More support and information

Young Minds is a UK organisation that provides information and support on emotional wellbeing and mental health for young people.

Mental Wellness in Adults with Down Syndrome.” Dennis McGuire & Brian Chicoine. (2006, Woodbine House) has information on mental health and self-esteem for people with Down’s syndrome.

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