How To Talk to Your Child About His Learning Disability

Children with learning and attention issues often pick up on ways they differ from their peers and struggling with schoolwork can be a blow to self-esteem.   Talking to your child about his or her disability can prove to be very useful. 

 

It is also useful to let the other children in the household understand the challenges that his or her sibling might be facing.  They can help to encourage the challenged child if they understand the problem.  

You may feel guilty, alone, or confused about how best to help your child. To combat feelings of isolation and inexperience, seek out a community of parents who can relate to your situation and offer personal advice.

 

Here are some tips on how you can do so.

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Be informed -  Get as much information as possible on the particular challenge so that you can speak with confidence and from a point of knowledge.

Remember, your child might ask a lot of questions and you would want to know the best way to answer him/her.

 

Challenges for All  - Let your child know that we all have strengths and weaknesses, and give specific examples. This can make it easier for him/her to embrace his/her learning differences. Talk about how he/she learns differently, but try to keep the focus on strategies rather than on the challenges themselves. This can help empower your child to overcome or work around weaknesses.  

It is also important that siblings are involved and that they understand the need to encourage rather than discourage.

 

No Labels Necessary - Early on, focus on finding ways to talk comfortably about your child’s learning challenges and behaviours. Diagnoses, clinical terms or more detailed discussion may come later, when more appropriate.  This however depends on the age of the child. 

 

Once Is Not Enough  -  It is impossible to answer all of your child’s questions and concerns in one conversation, so don’t feel like you have to. Think of this as a gradual, informal, and sequential discussion that will take place throughout your child’s life.  Try not to overwhelm the child with language and terms that he or she might not understand.  

 

Listen To Your Child -  Take the time to listen—really listen. Heed the proverb: “Listen twice as much as you speak.” Focusing on what your child says and does may lead to deeper, richer discussions about obstacles and solutions.

 

Perspective, Please  -  It’s easy to get wrapped up in the challenges your child is facing. Don’t forget to build on your child’s strengths and successes. Praise your child’s strengths, but use specific examples whenever possible, and don’t overdo it. Even young children can spot insincerity.

 

People To Relate To  -  It is easy for a child with learning disabilities to feel isolated and alone. Talk about people the child knows who have dealt with similar diagnoses .  It can be a parent, neighbour, athlete, teacher or even a celebrity.  Remind your child that while it isn’t always easy for this person, they found strategies that help.   Such stories may help your child feel less stigmatized and even boost his/her self-esteem.

Stay Positive  -  
Amidst all of this conversation about what your child can’t do, be sure to remind them of all the things they can do. Point out specific strengths, for example, “

The child might be good at a sport, he/she might be awesome on the piano, have a great singing voice or very good at science and these are the things that you can emphasise.