Many parents of children with learning disabilities hear this far too often. What your child may be trying to communicate with you is that he or she feels different from the other kids, is frustrated with a particular situation and/or rarely feels successful or competent.
As a parent, when you hear this, it is definitely time for damage control. Emphasize to your child that having a learning disability does not mean he or she is unintelligent. In actual fact, by definition, a student must have average or above average intelligence in order to qualify as a learning disabled student. Talk with your child about the specifics of the difficulties. The better your student understands his/her own challenges, the better prepared he/she can be to advocate and learn to accommodate weaknesses, emphasize strengths and not limit potential.
Encourage the nurturing of strengths and interests. A child consumed by struggles will often feel different from their peers. Nurturing strengths and interests allows your child the chance to surround him or herself with like-minded individuals, be and feel successful and hopefully develop solid friendships outside of the school setting.
It is also important for parents to watch for a specific source or pattern to their child’s frustration. This type of information is valuable for both the parent and the teacher. For instance, is the child exhibiting frustration both at home and at school? Is it with a specific subject or type of assignment? Does he/she tend to be down or easily frustrated when around specific individuals? If the parents and the teacher, working together can come up with a common denominator, you will have come a long way in alleviating some of the frustration.
It is easier for all of us to focus on our weaknesses. If you believe that we attract that which we focus on, then you can see the road looming before your child. Of course, you want the road to be positive and successful. One way to assist in increasing self-esteem and teaching your child to focus on the positive, as opposed to the negative, is to sit down with your child and make a list of all the things that they do well. One word of caution, make sure the list is meaningful. Being able to cross your eyes while sticking out your tongue is likely not a strength you need to focus on and is really meaningless in the long run. Make sure all of the strengths are positive, measurable and truthful. This is a list that you want to make your child feel good about himself/herself so place it in a prominent place and add to it often. By encouraging your child to focus on the positive you are one step closer to having a child who believes in him/herself.
Lani Donaldson is the president/CEO of Engaged Educators Inc.