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What kids say about living with learning disabilities

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By Jodie Dawson, Psy.D.

What you can do

Praise, praise, praise.

Your child needs to be recognized and encouraged for things that he CAN do well. Is he a great runner, musician, or artist? Does he help around the house? Make an effort to give him praise for the little things he does. For example, you can say, "I really liked the way you did your chores tonight. I didn't even have to remind you. I don't know what I'd do without your help." When you take notice, you'll see that these opportunities are around every corner.

Talk to your child.

For parents it's natural to try to protect kids from life's harms and upsets, but at what expense? The less you tell your child, the more serious he thinks his problems are. Kids suspect the worst if parents don't talk to them. The more open and honest you are with your child, the more trust he'll have in your relationship. Let him know that you're going to get through this together. Include him in as many family meetings and appointments with professionals as possible. Tell your child what to expect in the meetings and talk about them afterwards to get his opinion on how it went. Simply, speak the unspoken to your child, and you will both benefit.

Encourage your child to talk.

Let him know that you're available to listen to him, you won't tell him how he should feel, and you promise not to make judgments about what he tells you. You might have to take the first step and model the type of discussions you'd like to have with him. If you're nervous, you can write down some notes beforehand to organize your thoughts. Share your own childhood experiences - times you might have felt bad or embarrassed about school. This lets him know that he's not alone. You know what it can be like. You DO know what he's going through. You'll have to say it often, just be sure to say it - "I'm here for you if you want to talk."

© 2008 GreatSchools Inc. All Rights Reserved. Originally created by Schwab Learning, formerly a program of the Charles and Helen Schwab Foundation

Comments from readers

"Hi everyone. I am a mother of a 16 year old daughter. she in my opinion, has been pushed through school without the real help she needs for her learning disability. she does have an iep, but I am not contacted nearly enough from her school about her progress.I am having problems with her at home with disrespect. she seems to be going down hill when it comes to caring about homework or school in general. she seems to think that everything in her personal life is much more important than academics. I try to help her with homework, but she swears that she doesn't have any. I have left messages with the school to get back to me and they dont. I hate to think she's lying, but I am a mother who wants to trust her. Now she has a boyfriend, and she is constantly fighting with me to go over to his house every day after school. for one thing, I dont have the gas to be running her back and forth every single day. I just want to keep peace, and let her have some freedom, but she takes a! mile when i give her an inch. I feel like im losing her. Hope im not. If she doesnt get her way she freaks out so bad. It is always chaotic around here because we say no alot, and she cries and carries on so bad that im afraid she will just take off, and then what? anyone with the same problem?"