IEP's That Support Self Esteem and Student Success

Positive interactions support self esteem. Getty/Kidstock

Self Esteem and Writing Positive Goals for IEPs

Self Esteem has fallen from the pinnacle of academic and scientific practice.  There is not necessarily a direct link from self esteem to academic success.  Resilience is getting a great deal of attention, because the culture of coddling children for fear of injuring their self esteem often discourages them from risk taking, which has been shown to be related to success in school and life.

  Still, children with disabilities do need some extra attention paid to activities that will build their ability to take those risks, whether we call that resilience or self esteem.  The IEP, the document that defines the student's special education program, should attend to ways in which instruction is mediated and success is measured that will enhance a child's self confidence and lead to further success.  Certainly, these activities need to reinforce the kind of academic behavior you want, while at the same time pairing the child's sense of self worth to success in school activities.

If you are writing an IEP to ensure that your students will be successful, you will want to make sure that your goals are based on the student's past performance and that they are stated positively. Goals/statements must be relevant to the student's needs. Start slowly, choosing only a couple of behaviors at a time to change.

Be sure to involve the student, this enables him/her to take responsibility and be accountable for his/her own modifications. Be sure to provide some time to enable the student to track and or graph his/her successes.

Accommodations to Develop and Enhance Self-Esteem:

  • Academic expectations will be reduced to ensure success. Be very specific about the exact curricular expectations that will be omitted or modified. Recognize and reward quality performance.
  • Student strengths will be highlighted by recording and sharing evidence of growth.
  • Honest and appropriate feedback will occur on a regular basis.
  • Opportunities for the student to demonstrate strengths will be maximized as often as is possible. This could include, oral presentation and opportunities for the child to share his responses as long as the child is ready and an be successful.
  • The student will be encouraged to become involved in extra curricular activities that support his/her interests and strengths.
  • The student will use a form of personal expression which will include teacher response/feedback through a journal, one to one, or computer entries.


Write goals that can be measured, be specific as to the duration or the circumstance under which the goal will be implemented and use specific time slots when possible. Remember, once the IEP is written, it is imperative that the student is taught the goals and fully understands what the expectations are. Provide him/her with tracking devices, students need to be accountable for their own changes.

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Your Citation
Watson, Sue. "IEP's That Support Self Esteem and Student Success." ThoughtCo, Feb. 21, 2016, Watson, Sue. (2016, February 21). IEP's That Support Self Esteem and Student Success. Retrieved from Watson, Sue. "IEP's That Support Self Esteem and Student Success." ThoughtCo. (accessed January 20, 2018).